BHUBANESWAR: Following Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s prod to increase the share of RT-PCR tests on Wednesday, the state government on Friday decided to increase daily number of tests using this method to 10,150. The RT PCR target so far was 7,300 per day but was hardly met.
Additional chief secretary (health) Pradipta Kumar Mohapatra, who chaired a meeting on the state’s testing strategy, said the districts will be given individual targets. To meet the number, the RT PCR tests would also be done on people without symptoms.
“It was found that because the districts followed the guidelines of testing only people with symptoms such as of fever, influenza-like illness and severe acute respiratory illness, under RT-PCR and asymptomatic people using antigen test kits, the overall number of RT-PCR tests were less. Now, this would not be followed. The districts will have the liberty to conduct RT-PCR tests, which is more reliable, on asymptomatic people to meet the numbers,” he said.
Samples of people returning from other states even without symptoms would be collected at railway stations at random to increase number of RT-PCR tests. “After following such a strategy for one week, we will review the situation again to address the gaps since it is a dynamic situation,” Mohapatra said.
The state’s decision to ramp up RT-PCR testing also coincides with the state reporting more than 100 new infections on a day in the past 40 days.
“There is no denying the fact that there is a little surge in cases from 60 to 70 per day to 90 to100 in the past some days. This is also a reason why we would like to increase the number of RT-PCR tests, which is considered the gold standard,” the top health administrator said. Pointing out over-dependence of Odisha, besides Kerala, Uttar Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, on antigen tests for Covid-19, Modi, in a video meeting with chief ministers, had asked these states to increase the RT-PCR tests.