COVID-19: India Aims To Scale Up Testing As Positive Cases Surge

Within 24 hours, India recorded 354 new coronavirus-linked cases and eight deaths, the Union Health And Family Welfare Ministry said on April 7. The continuous spike in the COVID-19 cases has raised questions over soon expiring lockdown period and the number of tests conducted by the government.

Last year, head of World Health Organisation Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters: “We have a simple message to all countries — test, test, test”.

India’s top health research body Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has prepared a ‘worst-case scenario’ roadmap for COVID-19 testing as it gears up to add 200 additional labs for round-the-clock testing amid a spike in cases in the country. It further added that it is actively considering to scale up testing capacity to 100,000 tests per day in coming months.

As on April 6 afternoon, a total of 1,01,068 samples were tested for COVID-19, according to the ICMR, which experts say is one of the lowest testing rates for a country of 1.37 billion people. It further added that it is actively considering to scale up testing capacity to 100,000 tests per day in coming months.

“There is unanimity among epidemiologists, doctors and district-level administrators that the need of the hour is aggressive and extensive testing,” former finance minister P Chidambaram was quoted as saying by news agency Reuters.

Since India’s first case was confirmed on January 30, it has always kept a narrow testing structure, i.e. only testing who had come in contact with a COVID-19 positive person.

Yet, for a densely populated country, the number of cases is still relatively low as compared to Europe and the US. Far wealthier countries than India were strongly criticised for their slow initial response.

Since the outbreak of the virus, the Indian government has assured that country is fully prepared to combat the deadly virus. Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan had said Prime Minister Narendra Modi is closely monitoring the situation related to the coronavirus in the country. He further said he has been taking review meeting daily with the concerned officials, news agency IANS reported.

As of April 7, a total number of cases stands at 4,421, Lav Aggarwal, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare said.

The highly contagious virus that emerged in the Chinese city of Wuhan has spread to dozens of countries. Wuhan that accounted for 60 per cent of China’s coronavirus-linked cases has begun to lift restrictions.

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