The State’s COVID-19 Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) has recommended revision of testing targets keeping in mind the Test Positivity Rate (TPR), seven-day average of effective Reproduction Number (Rt No.) and the ensuing fairs and festivals in October-November.
1.1 lakh till Nov.
Recommending a total daily target of 1.1 lakh till November, the TAC suggested that 50,000 tests be done daily in Bengaluru and 60,000 in the rest of Karnataka. Half of the 60,000 tests should be in border districts, stated the TAC’s report.
So far, although a target of 1.5 lakh had been fixed, the number of daily tests had reduced in the last fortnight ranging between 79,000 and 1.6 lakh. Health officials said this was mainly because people were hesitant to get tested now, especially when they do not have any symptoms.
The TAC that discussed revision of testing targets at its 128th meeting noted that the weekly TPR of the State as of October 9 was 0.44%. “Only two districts — Chikkamagaluru (1.25%) and Hassan (1.04%) — have a TPR of over 1%. While 41% of the total 451 cases reported on October 9 are from Bangalore Urban, 59% are from the rest of Karnataka and five districts (Bagalkot, Gadag, Haveri, Koppal, Raichur and Yadgir) reported zero cases. With a general decline in the number of cases, a revision of testing targets has been sought,” the report stated.
Recommending that 50% of the daily tests should be done at the district headquarters, the TAC reiterated that 10% of the samples should be drawn from schoolchildren. “In case of deficits of meeting the testing targets, random samples from crowded populations and others like those in closed markets, shopkeepers, caterers, restaurant staff, home delivery personnel, inter-State arrivals from Kerala and Maharashtra at railway stations and bus stands and others should be tested,” the TAC report stated.
TAC member, V. Ravi said although revision of testing targets was recommended, the priorities remained the same. “We should continue tracing, tracking and testing a minimum of 1:30 contacts as per guidelines. All ILI, SARI cases and those with symptoms should be compulsorily tested. In areas where clusters have been reported, a wider ring testing should be done,” Dr. Ravi asserted.
C.N. Manjunath, nodal officer for labs and testing, said there was a huge hesitancy among people to get tested now. “But we should continue testing to sustain the TPR,” he said.
In taluks where the TPR was less than 2%, 1:5 pooling of samples in the laboratory should be done. Testing should continue aggressively in the districts bordering Kerala (Dakshina Kannada, Udupi, Kodagu, Chamarajanagar, and Mysuru) and Maharashtra (Bidar, Kalaburagi, Vijayapura, Yadgir, and Belagavi) to prevent any spillover, he added.