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Coronavirus: Why is Assam testing so little?

By Rituraj Borthakur
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GUWAHATI, April 12 - The number of tests conducted in Assam per million population is 94, which is far below the test rate in countries like the US, Italy and South Korea.

Till yesterday, 3,011 samples were tested in Assam and of which twenty-nine have been found positive and 2,842 negative and the results of remaining samples are being awaited.

Some in health circles are concerned over the lesser number of tests conducted in the state, which witnessed about 75,000 people returning prior to the lockdown, many of them from coronavirus-affected states.

According to the reference website worldometer.info, the US, which has reported 5,33,115 cases, has conducted 26,93,758 tests at the rate of 8,138 test per million population. Similarly, Italy, which has 1,52,271 cases, had conducted 9,63,473 tests at the rate of 15,935 tests per population.

South Korea has conducted 5,14,621 tests of which 10,512 have been found positive. The number of tests conducted per million population in South Korea is 10,038.

Recording 8,504 cases, India has conducted 1,89,111 tests. The number of tests conducted per million population in India is merely 137.

The fewer-than-expected SARS-CoV-2 positive cases in India have spawned several theories, and one of them is the number of tests conducted in the country. While the state government has ruled out community transmission till date, it has also not been able to trace the source from whom Manish Tibrewal of Spanish Garden � who did not have any travel history since March - got infected.

Sources said there has been inadequate number of testing kits with the ICMR.

The five approved government labs in the state are conducting the RT-PCR (Reverse Transcriptase - Polymerase Chain Reaction) test for COVID-19. It takes around six hours to give the final result.

The state government has ramped up the testing of late and around 300 tests are being conducted in the state labs every day. So far the tests are being conducted based on travel history, contact tracing and extreme symptoms.

The Tezpur Medical College & Hospital is likely to be the sixth lab in the state to be approved by ICMR for conducting COVID-19 tests.

The cost of the test kit is very high, with the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW), in an order on March 22, capping the diagnostic test for novel coronavirus at Rs 4,500 for private labs, which includes Rs 1,500 as a screening test for suspected cases and an additional Rs 3,000 for a confirmation test.

Some in health circles argue that most of the infected persons are getting cured by themselves or not even showing any symptoms and as such not approaching the health system for tests, resulting in lesser number of performed tests and perhaps fewer positive results.

The state health department had recently decided to go for one lakh rapid tests in some zones.

In response to the growing COVID-19 pandemic and shortages of laboratory-based molecular testing capacity and reagents, multiple diagnostic test manufacturers have developed and begun selling rapid and easy-to-use devices to facilitate testing outside the laboratory settings. These simple test kits are based either on detection of proteins from the COVID-19 virus in respiratory samples (like sputum, throat swab, etc.) or in blood or serum of human antibodies generated in response to infection.

However, these rapid tests may not necessarily show an accurate result.

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Coronavirus: Why is Assam testing so little?

GUWAHATI, April 12 - The number of tests conducted in Assam per million population is 94, which is far below the test rate in countries like the US, Italy and South Korea.

Till yesterday, 3,011 samples were tested in Assam and of which twenty-nine have been found positive and 2,842 negative and the results of remaining samples are being awaited.

Some in health circles are concerned over the lesser number of tests conducted in the state, which witnessed about 75,000 people returning prior to the lockdown, many of them from coronavirus-affected states.

According to the reference website worldometer.info, the US, which has reported 5,33,115 cases, has conducted 26,93,758 tests at the rate of 8,138 test per million population. Similarly, Italy, which has 1,52,271 cases, had conducted 9,63,473 tests at the rate of 15,935 tests per population.

South Korea has conducted 5,14,621 tests of which 10,512 have been found positive. The number of tests conducted per million population in South Korea is 10,038.

Recording 8,504 cases, India has conducted 1,89,111 tests. The number of tests conducted per million population in India is merely 137.

The fewer-than-expected SARS-CoV-2 positive cases in India have spawned several theories, and one of them is the number of tests conducted in the country. While the state government has ruled out community transmission till date, it has also not been able to trace the source from whom Manish Tibrewal of Spanish Garden � who did not have any travel history since March - got infected.

Sources said there has been inadequate number of testing kits with the ICMR.

The five approved government labs in the state are conducting the RT-PCR (Reverse Transcriptase - Polymerase Chain Reaction) test for COVID-19. It takes around six hours to give the final result.

The state government has ramped up the testing of late and around 300 tests are being conducted in the state labs every day. So far the tests are being conducted based on travel history, contact tracing and extreme symptoms.

The Tezpur Medical College & Hospital is likely to be the sixth lab in the state to be approved by ICMR for conducting COVID-19 tests.

The cost of the test kit is very high, with the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW), in an order on March 22, capping the diagnostic test for novel coronavirus at Rs 4,500 for private labs, which includes Rs 1,500 as a screening test for suspected cases and an additional Rs 3,000 for a confirmation test.

Some in health circles argue that most of the infected persons are getting cured by themselves or not even showing any symptoms and as such not approaching the health system for tests, resulting in lesser number of performed tests and perhaps fewer positive results.

The state health department had recently decided to go for one lakh rapid tests in some zones.

In response to the growing COVID-19 pandemic and shortages of laboratory-based molecular testing capacity and reagents, multiple diagnostic test manufacturers have developed and begun selling rapid and easy-to-use devices to facilitate testing outside the laboratory settings. These simple test kits are based either on detection of proteins from the COVID-19 virus in respiratory samples (like sputum, throat swab, etc.) or in blood or serum of human antibodies generated in response to infection.

However, these rapid tests may not necessarily show an accurate result.

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