While the new cases of COVID19 continue to rise across J&K, government has ordered increase in the number of COVID19 tests and contact tracing for early detection of the infected, a strategy that was successfully used last year.
As per government statistics, over 25,000 COVID19 tests are carried out daily in J&K. However, nearly 90% of these tests, as per data, are done using Rapid Antigen Tests (RAT). The RAT has helped the UT increase the number of tests rapidly but many have criticized the "over-reliance" on this method for its "significant false negatives".
Financial Commissioner, Health and Medical Education, Atal Dulloo, said that the number of samples tested for SARS-CoV2 on RT-PCR will be increased significantly in view of the rise in fresh positives over the past month. "We have RT-PCR facility available at GMC Srinagar, GMC Jammu, SKIMS Medical Colleges Hospital, SKIMS Soura and many other hospitals, including the new medical colleges," he said.
He said that three fully automated COBAS systems had also been procured and were set to increase the capacity of testing greatly. "We have been able to get three systems out of the 20 across India," he said. Dulloo said increased RT-PCR tests will help get a better picture of the infection in the community.
The FC said that the testing numbers were low in some districts of Jammu as well as Kashmir division. "We have been seeing a trend of fall in sampling in difficult access areas and this needs to be addressed," he said.
J&K stands at number 2 in terms of per million tests. Till date, 5747468 COVID19 tests have been carried out in the UT of which 128547 have been found positive.
A senior health official said that J&K government was mulling to strengthen the testing by allocating more personnel to the sampling and laboratories.
In addition, he said, increased focus on contact tracing has been ordered. "All CMOs and other functionaries in the health department have been given directions to ensure that at least 15 contacts of each positive case are traced and tested," he said.
In the past 10 days, nearly 1200 cases of the viral infection have come to fore while 12 people have lost their lives. On Sunday, the number of new cases reported was 158, the highest in the past 11 weeks. After 12 March, the COVID19 curve has taken an upward direction in J&K with the daily cases ranging between 100 and 158.