India’s poor testing rate can hamper COVID-19 fight

Till March 24, India had conducted only 22,928 tests

Published: Wednesday 25 March 2020

Robust testing mechanism is a crucial weapon against the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. Even as India entered a complete lockdown on March 25, 2020, the number of tests it has carried out are relatively less than other countries.

Till March 24, India conducted only 22,928 tests. This, when the World Health Organization (WHO) has been urging countries to do more tests for COVID-19.

Large-scale random testing is required to avoid community transmission, according to WHO. South Korea, for example, was able to contain the outbreak from spiralling out of control through massive testing — it has been doing as many as 17,000 random tests a day.

Other countries like Taiwan and Vietnam are also doing large-scale random tests.

Meanwhile India has the capacity to conduct at least 5,000 tests a week. India’s tally of COVID-19 cases was a little over 550 as on March 25, 2020.

It was only recently that testing ambit was extended to private labs. Two private companies, Altona Diagnostics and My Lab, have got the clearance to produce test kits.

However, experts said mass production of kits and their delivery across the country could take weeks, if not months.

Several experts speculated that India could record the highest number of COVID-19 cases. 

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