Despite dip in testing, Covid-19 cases remain high across India

TV Jayan New Delhi | Updated on September 28, 2020 Published on September 28, 2020

One-off high positivity rate is not a concern, say experts

Even though the number of Covid-19 tests done across the country fell from nearly 15 lakh on Thursday to nearly 7 lakh on Sunday, there was only a slight drop in number of daily cases, indicating a sudden increase in positivity rates.

On a total of a record 14.92 lakh tests done on Thursday, the number of fresh cases reported was 86,052. However, 82,170 new cases were reported on Sunday when around 7.09 lakh tests were conducted. The positivity rate on Sunday was recorded at around 11.58 per cent whereas on Thursday, it was at 5.77 per cent. Positivity rate is calculated by dividing the number of cases by total tests done.

However, independent experts said there was not much to worry about this seemingly high positivity rate.

“I would not read much into figures of one-off day. But, if these figures remains consistently at that level, then it becomes a cause of concern. However, if you look at our test positivity — there will be daily fluctuations — but the overall rates are the ones which is more important,” said Himanshu Negandhi, Additional Professor at the Indian Institute of Public Health, which is part of the New Delhi-based Public Health Foundation of India.

‘Numbers not worrying’

“These fluctuations smoothen out over a seven-day moving average. Over weekends the number of tests performed are slightly lower in number, but the number averages out over the week. So, I would not be too worried about one fluctuation is seen in the graph on one particular day,” said Negandhi.

The seven-day moving average calculated by the Chennai-based National Institute of Epidemiology, an Indian Council of Medical Research institute, showed that the Covid-19 pandemic is showing a dip from highest levels achieved in the middle of last week.

Another epidemiologist, who requested anonymity said, “If our testing was inadequate, this number would probably be hidden only for a short interval, and then it would jump up. That hasn’t happen. The active cases are stabilising at around 9- 10 lakh. This means we are seeing a fairly realistic and consistent picture.”

Negandhi said that with an improvement in testing overall in the country India is very close to the WHO recommended positivity rate of approximately 5 per cent. This, he said, is a good sign.

“The pandemic has gotten its ways and means of evolving over time and may spring a nasty surprise as it did in Kerala or it might persist how it did in Maharashtra. But all said and done, we seem to be doing a good job on testing front at the national level,” said the IIPH professor.

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Published on September 28, 2020
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