NEW DELHI: What explains the relatively very low number of Covid-19 cases in India? It could be down to inadequate testing, Dr T Sundararaman, public health expert and former director of the National Health Systems Resource Centre tells Rema Nagarajan.
The numbers seem to indicate that we have Covid-19 under control. Is that the case?
It is too early to be sure. And the number of persons we are testing, and the number of laboratories for testing are very low. But the most worrying is that the current whom-to-test protocol will completely miss any community transmission.
Dr T Sundararaman
What are the best-case and worst-case scenarios?
This is more in the nature of speculation than any scientific estimate. The best-case scenario is that this virus is very sensitive to the Indian summer and decreases completely, and does not come back later. The total infected remains lower than say 10,000. The worstcase scenario is that it peaks in July, when it infects a high proportion of the adult population over 30 years of age, say 30% to 50%, and over 4% of them need critical care.
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There are zero cases from states such as Bihar and Gujarat with large migrant populations. Why?
I feel its because of extraordinarily low level of testing. Bihar has just one testing centre in Patna, Gujarat two in Ahmedabad and Jamnagar. How can we expect someone with flu symptoms to travel such long distances to be tested? In several states, I was told of instances where people going with flu symptoms to the general hospital are being turned away because there is no testing centre there.
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Why cant there be testing centres in at least in the 272 government medical colleges and in district hospitals?
In practice, they dont seem to be testing anyone except those with history of travel abroad or of contact with someone who had Covid-19. But if community transmission has set in, which is very likely, the majority of the infected would not haRead More – Source