PM Modi asks CMs of Maharashtra, Karnataka and Delhi to ramp up RT-PCR testing

Maharashtra does about 50,000 RT-PCR tests daily out of the nearly 90,000 tests done in the state, the rest being rapid antigen tests. It is the worst-affected state with the highest test positivity rate of 20.7%.

Agencies
NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi asked chief ministers of Maharashtra, Karnataka and Delhi to ramp up RT-PCR testing, the gold standard test for Covid-19 as per the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).

In a meeting with seven CMs on Wednesday evening, the PM suggested to Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray that the state increase RT-PCR testing fivefold from the current level. Similarly, the PM suggested that Karnataka conduct three times as many RT-PCR tests as it does at present and Delhi to also step up RT-PCR testing substantially.

Maharashtra does about 50,000 RT-PCR tests daily out of the nearly 90,000 tests done in the state, the rest being rapid antigen tests. It is the worst-affected state with the highest test positivity rate of 20.7%. So far, it has conducted about 6.1 million tests while nearly 34,000 people have died in the state, indicating a high fatality rate of 2.68%. “Stressing on the importance of saving each and every life, the Prime Minister said that special focus is needed in 20 districts of Maharashtra with a greater number of cases,” the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) said in a statement.


The Centre believes that rapid antigen tests do not have a good success rate of showing correct results and states have not been subjecting symptomatic persons, who test negative in antigen tests, to a follow-up RT-PCR test. The PM made it clear to all CMs on Wednesday that RT-PCR tests must be conducted for all symptomatic people who have tested negative through antigen tests.

The PM asked Karnataka CM BS Yediyurappa to increase RT-PCR testing in the state by “three times” and said that though Karnataka had developed a scientific mechanism of tracing and tracking, which has proved to be of immense benefit, nine districts of the state have a high fatality rate which need urgent attention.

Delhi’s low level of RT-PCR testing caught the PM’s eye, as only about 10,000 RT-PCR tests are being done daily in the national capital out of around 60,000 tests done daily. The Delhi High court had recently also pulled up the Delhi government on this point. “PM stressed on increasing RT-PCR tests (in Delhi) and also conducting these tests for all symptomatic people who have tested negative through antigen test,” the PMO said.
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Modi noted with concern the rising death toll in Punjab and flagged 16 districts in Uttar Pradesh, where more than 100 cases each are being reported daily.

The PM praised Tamil Nadu at the meeting and said the state was an example worth emulating, with its strategy of large-scale testing and tracing, which has resulted in stabilisation and reduction in daily cases. Tamil Nadu has been conducting only RT-PCR tests and does nearly 85,000 such tests daily, resulting in nearly 6.8 million tests so far. Regarding Tamil Nadu, the PM said greater focus was needed on reducing the case fatality rate in seven districts.
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