With the Odisha capital being identified as one of the coronavirus hotspots in the country, the state government has stepped up its measures to fight the disease by adopting rapid and pool testing methods to detect COVID-19 cases, Health and Family Welfare Minister N K Das said on Sunday.
The rapid and pool tests will be conducted apart from regular sample tests, he said. “Rapid tests have started in Bhubaneswar, which reported 46 of the total 61 coronavirus cases in Odisha, while
efforts are on to commence pool tests of samples at VIMSAR, Burla from Sunday,” the minister said.
He said 90 samples will be initially tested every day at the institute and the numbers will later be increased.
The state administration has already received 6,000 rapid testing kits from the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) in the first phase, Health and Family Welfare Department Secretary N B Dhal said.
“Antibody rapid tests for COVID-19 has commenced in Bhubaneswar from Saturday. A total of 838 samples were collected for tests on the first day. Tests in the city are being done with the help of the Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation,” he said.
Mr Dhal said the residents of the city have been requested to contact their respective RWA (Resident Welfare Association), ANM, ASHA or ward officer for the tests. “It is a serological test in which blood is taken from the vein and the result is known in 15-30 minutes. This test is primarily done for surveillance,” the official said.
He said if a person’s blood test shows the presence of a lesser number of antibodies than what is required to fight novel coronavirus, his or her swab and nasal fluid samples will be collected and sent for COVID-19 test.
The Health and Family Welfare Department has categorised residents of Bhubaneswar in three priority lists as per their vulnerability to contracting the disease, he said.
Mr Dhal claimed that Bhubaneswar is safe due to timely intervention and prompt contact tracing of persons suspected to be infected with the disease and their mandatory quarantine followed by sample test.
The state health department has released data stating that till April 14, the highest percentage of samples per one lakh population has been tested in Bhubaneswar when compared to other states and cities.
A total of 189.8 samples were tested per one lakh population in Bhubaneswar while the corresponding number for Mumbai is 180.5 and Thane is 119.3, as per the health department’s data.
The average tests per 10 lakh population in Odisha touched 191 on Saturday, Mr Dhal said.
The official said the COVID-19 tests are gradually increasing in the state with each passing week.
Only 227 samples were tested till March 27 while the number rose to 9,690 till the midnight of April 18, he said.
The samples were initially tested only at RMRC, Bhubaneswar till March 27 but later AIIMS, Bhubaneswar and SCB Medical College and Hospital, Cuttack were also authorised by the ICMR to conduct the tests, Mr Dhal said.
The sample tests increased to 3,547 in the third week from April 4 to April 10. In that week alone, 2,152 samples were tested at RMRC, AIIMS, Bhubaneswar and SCB, Cuttack, he said.
In the fourth week from April 11 to April 17, the cumulative tests reached 8,619 including 5,072 tests in that week. The tests were also being conducted at the Institute of Life Science, Bhubaneswar, MKCG, Berhampur and Ispat General Hospital (IGH), Rourkela, Mr Dhal said.
Of the 9,690 samples tested till date, 61 have tested positive for the disease and 9,629 have tested negative, he added.