India to scale up daily Covid testing to 45 lakh a day by end June

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Currently, 20 lakh tests are conducted daily and this will be increased to 25 lakh tests a day by May 31 and 45 lakh by June end.

The Covid-19 testing capacity in the country will be increased to 45 lakh tests a day by June 30, Balram Bhargava, director-general, Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR), said at a media briefing on Thursday.

Currently, 20 lakh tests are conducted daily and this will be increased to 25 lakh tests a day by May 31 and 45 lakh by June end.

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A ferocious second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic had seen positivity rate hit 23% in mid-April, though this has now dropped to 13%. More testing together with isolation and treatment, Bhargava said, would help bring down the positivity rate to 5% and control transmission.

Compared with just eight lakh tests a day in early March, a record 20 lakh tests were carried out on May 18 and 19. As on May 20, the country had conducted 32 crore cumulative Covid-19 tests

The ICMR DG has called for rationalising RT-PCR tests and scaling up testing using Rapid Antigen Tests (RAT) since results are available immediately. ICMR has validated 105 RAT test companies and approved 41 of them for enhancing RAT testing; of these 31 are local companies. The first home testing kit has been approved by ICMR and three more could be approved within a week, Bhargava said.

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At present the country has the capacity to carry out 12 to 13 lakh RTPCR tests and 7 lakh lakh RAT tests every day. This would go up to 13 lakh RT-PCR and 12 lakh RAT tests a day by May 31 and to 18 lakh RT-PCR test and 27 lakh RAT tests by June 30. Large cities would focus on RT-PCR tests but rural areas would depend on RAT tests.

The country has a network of 2,553 Covid labs with 7,000 RT-PCR machines, 3,800 TruNat and CBNAT testing machines and 12 high throughput machines.

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