Odisha to review testing strategy after PM pointed out overreliance on antigen kits

4 months ago 6

BHUBANESWAR: Prime Minister

Narendra Modi

on Wednesday pointed out overreliance of Odisha, besides

Kerala

, Uttar Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, on antigen tests for Covid-19, prompting the state to review its testing strategy.
Modi, in a video meeting with chief ministers, pointed out overdependence of these states on antigen tests, saying, “This needs to change. RT PCR tests should increase to check infections. Around 70% tests should be done using RT PCR method.”
Though the Odisha chief minister

Naveen Patnaik

did not speak in the meeting, as this was part not part of the agenda, in a written submission he pointed out that the long period of this crisis has brought fatigue and complacency in following covid health protocols. “We need to be careful as multiple surges of covid spread is the reality in many countries and as witnessed in many states in India as well,” Naveen said in a statement.
Stating that going back to lockdowns would not be possible, Naveen said, “We cannot go back to the era of lockdowns. However, at the same time we need to ensure that the virus spread is also contained through renewed efforts in awareness and enforcement.”
“As a country with huge population, achieving herd immunity will be a long process and in the meantime we all need to be extremely careful,” Naveen said emphasizing that just because Covid vaccine is available now, there is no place for complaceny in observing covid norms.
Naveen said since Odisha is affected by disasters like cyclones almost every year, the administrative machinery is well prepared to deal with crisis situations that the pandemic has brought.
In the meeting CMs of

Maharashtra

, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Gujarat,

Karnataka

and Haryana besides administrator of Chandigarh, where the covid cases are showing rising trend, spoke. While home minister

Amit Shah

made introductory remarks and Union health secretary Rajesh Bhushan made a presentation on the situation.
Additional chief secretary (health) Pradipta Kumar Mohapatra, who also attended the VC, said the state’s testing strategy would be reviewed with all laboratories conducting Covid tests on Friday.
The number of RT PCR tests conducted in the state is around 7300 out of the total more than 20,000 tests being conducted per day, the rest being rapid antigen tests. The number of RT PCR tests is less because the state has been conducting RT PCR tests on people with symptoms such as of fever, influenza like illness and severe acute respiratory illness. Since the number of such people is less, the overall RT PCR tests are less.
Mohapatra said to further increase the number of RT PCR tests, the state is planning to collect samples of people with any possible symptom returning from states such as Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Kerala, Punjab and Chhattisgarh and conduct RT PCR tests on them instead of antigen tests which is being done now at railway stations and airports.
On Wednesday, Odisha reported 82 new covid positive cases, which is the highest in a day in past two weeks, as it increased the number of tests done from around 20,000 to 25000 in past 24 hours.
The situation in Odisha continues to be firmly under control, Mohapatra said. In the first fortnight of March, the state’s case positivity rate is 0.33% while the average number of tests done per day is 21,231. The state has reported two Covid deaths this month.

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