India may turn into second Italy if it doesn’t increase testing of COVID-19, warn experts

indica News Bureau-

Applied economist at Johns Hopkins University, Steve Hank has said that India is even farther behind than Pakistan when it comes to testing for coronavirus cases, per million. He further warned that if India doesn’t pick up the testing, it may turn ‘into the next Italy’.

According to India’s Union Ministry of Health and Family welfare. April, 12 report shows total registered 9,152 cases of COVID-19 infection and 308 deaths.

According to data presented by him on Wednesday, April 8, India is testing 102 people per million, Pakistan 191 per million, the United States of America 6,336 per million. Hong Kong has performed the best by testing 12,900 people per million, reported LatestLY.

“India is testing at very low levels, at just 102 tests per 1M pop. Pakistan is almost dysfunctional, & they are testing more at 191 tests per 1M pop. Modi’s #Lockdown doesn’t identify who’s ill & who’s healthy. Without testing, India can easily spiral into the next Italy,” Hanke tweeted.

However, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) on Monday said that it is gearing to add 200 additional labs for round-the-clock COVID-19 testing. ICMR also said that it is considering to scale up testing capacity to 100,000 tests per day.

According to the random sampling being conducted by ICMR, the rate of infection in India is less than 2%. For five weeks between, February 15 and April 2, ICMR tested 5,911 SARI (Severe Acute Respiratory Illnesses) patients for COVID-19. Of these cases, 104 tested positive (1.8 percent of those who were tested) and these were from 52 districts in 20 states and union territories.

Currently, the country is testing 18,000 samples for coronavirus per day across 192 government and private laboratories. “With a view to preparing for the worst-case scenario, ICMR has taken a number of steps towards enhancing the number of labs, machines and test kits required to test suspected cases across the country,” the council said in a statement.

After the testing policy was changed, to include SARI patients, only two of 106 patients were found positive between March 15 and March 21. Of the 2,877 patients tested between March 22 and March 28, a total of 48 (1.7 percent) were found positive.

The second report also shows a higher number of cases among men and patients aged above 50 years. A total of 85 cases (83.3 percent) cases were men and 83 cases (81.4 percent) above 40 years of age. Detection of COVID-19 among SARI patients increased from zero percent before March 14, to 2.6 percent by April 2, India Today reported.

ICMR’s overall conclusion on the basis of this report stated, “COVID-19 containment activities need to be targeted in districts reporting COVID-19 cases among SARI patients. Intensifying surveillance for COVID-19 among SARI patients may be an efficient tool to effectively use resources towards containment and mitigation efforts.”