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Pooled testing planned in districts with zero cases to get real picture

The sources said that these tests would be done through RT-PCR, nucleic acid-based testing that India has been using since the beginning, not an alternative to the recently launched rapid serological tests.

Pushing for increased testing, health authorities are set to conduct pooling tests in some 436 districts of the country from where no case of Kovid-19 has been reported. This will be done to get a “realistic estimate” of the spread of the disease, highly placed government sources said, and regions will be selected based on available information.

In the third week of the 21-day lockdown, the government realizes that without adequate testing in Kovid-free districts, there is an inherent risk in making any decision on the lockdown.

That’s why the information from the two databases from the Arogya Setu App and Surveillance – will be merged to select areas where pooling testing will be conducted between symptomatic people.

The sources said that these tests would be done through RT-PCR, nucleic acid-based testing that India has been using since the beginning, not an alternative to the recently launched rapid serological tests.

“We already have a few crore downloads of the Arogya Setu app. Tracking data from that will give us an idea about the spread of the disease and then our own surveillance data. Combining these two databases, we will perform pooling tests in select areas of some COVID-free districts to see if they are truly disease-free. The NCDC (National Center for Disease Control) will select areas and once all tests are negative in symptomatic people, we can say with reasonable certainty that a particular geography is free of COVID, ”a highly placed source said.

In this context, sources said, Prime Minister Narendra Modi held a high-level meeting on the Arogya Setu App on Tuesday. Cabinet ministers Rajnath Singh, Amit Shah, Ram Vilas Paswan, Ravi Shankar Prasad, Piyush Goyal and Prakash Javadekar participated in it.

During the meeting, a team of experts was made aware of its role in making a presentation on the app and tracking Corona-positive cases and alerting people to observe social distances from places or who Tested positive.

The presentation indicated a push for the app from the highest levels of government. “We will not only have to use technology for better tracking of positive cases, but also help bring unaffected populations closer to positive cases. The data generated will also be used to improve isolation and quarantine facilities to improve epidemic conditions.

As of Wednesday, 131,271 tests were performed on symptomatic people with asymptomatic contacts with travel or contact history, medical professionals or confirmed cases. Of these 13345 tests were conducted in the last 24 hours in 139 ICMR laboratories and 2266 cases in 69 private laboratories. India is making concerted efforts for double testing every few days to reach 40,000 daily tests.

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