Half of COVID19 tests in J&K carried out on travelers

File Pic: Mubashir Khan/GK

In J&K, nearly half of the around 9 lakh COVID19 tests have been done of travelers with only 1.5 percent among them testing positive, official data shows.

There is a great disparity in the positive percentage as well as the samples taken among various sub-groups of people who have undergone COVID19 testing in J&K. The travelers form the largest single category of people subjected to mandatory testing. However, in proportion to the number of samples testing positive, theirs is a very small share.

J&K started mandatory testing of people arriving to the UT from abroad or other states beginning May.

Data maintained by the Health and Medical Education department reveals that samples of 4,17,070 travelers arriving from outside had been tested till 24 August. Of these, only 5991 tested positive – around 1.4 percent. The number of non-travelers tested during the same period was 4,60,731. Of them, 27084 tested positive – 5.8 percent.

Although the number of travelers sampled and tested is equivalent in the UT, the wide difference between the positivity reflects the higher incidence of COVID19 infection among the local population.

The data further reveals that people having influenza-like illness and severe acute respiratory distress have the highest rate of positive COVID19 tests. A total of 21680 samples of people sick with flu symptoms were taken in the past five months. Nearly one out five such people tested positive, the percentage being 19.8.

COVID19 has also hit the healthcare workers hard. 5.5 percent of the 11963 people sampled have tested positive in J&K.

A senior doctor who has been involved in testing healthcare workers said the fact that one out of every 20 healthcare workers has been infected with COVID19 needs introspection about the safety protocols in place. “It can be a crisis anytime,” he said.

Although J&K has been carrying out very little random sampling, among such samples, along with the high number of patients admitted for treatment other than COVID19, 5.5 percent have been reported positive. As per official data, 1,63,249 samples of this category have been tested.

An official said the robust contact tracing in J&K has been able to help in containing spread of infection to a great deal. The data shows 8.6 percent of people who had come in direct contact with a confirmed case of COVID19 have been found infected.

53769 samples of people falling in high-risk groups have been tested in J&K. Of these, just 2.8 percent were found positive. The high-risk group included elderly aged 60 years and above, people with diseases of kidney, cancer, diabetes and hypertension, pregnant women nearing their expected date of delivery and other immune-compromised people.

Financial Commissioner Health and Medical Education Atal Dulloo said the sampling and testing in J&K was the ‘most robust’ and the quantum of tests carried out per day was over 10,000.

“We are covering all categories of people who need to be tested including travelers,” he said, adding that this strategy was meant to catch the infected early. “Travelers are an important link,” he said.