Haryana has been falling short of its responsibilities as far as doing testing for Covid-19 is concerned. For the past few weeks, the number of cases have been rising rapidly, especially in the districts neighbouring New Delhi. For example, 69 per cent of the total positive cases in Haryana have been registered in just the last 13 days. However, testing hasn’t been ramped up accordingly.
If we take only this month’s data, positivity rate (number of samples found positive per 100 samples) stands now at 8.71 per cent.
On 31 May, it was only 1.76 per cent. This should be enough to tell us how quickly the virus is spreading through the population and also how the government is failing on the testing front.
In May, 2,901 samples were tested per day, on an average. In June so far, this testing average has only increased to 4,109 samples per day.
That’s not all. Most of the cases have come to light in the districts bordering the national capital chiefly Gurgaon, Faridabad, Sonipat and Jhajjar, in that order.
Gurgaon‘s case deserves special attention as it is not only quickly developing into a major hotspot but is also an epitome of Haryana government’s failure on the testing front.
Gurgaon now accounts for 45 per cent of Haryana’s total cases.
Moreover, around 75 per cent of the total cases in Gurgaon have been registered in this month alone.
But that’s not what is worrying. The worrying part is that the actual positive cases in Gurgaon are much much higher that what we are officially told.
How? Look at the positivity rate.
From 1 to 11 June, 4,419 samples were tested out of which 1,963 were detected positive. That’s staggering 44.1 per cent test positivity rate, which is perhaps one of the highest, if not the highest in the country.
Positivity rate has gone up in other major cities as well but is still below what is being witnessed in Gurgaon.
In June, so far, Mumbai has the highest positivity rate of over 32 per cent followed by Delhi which is around 27 per cent. Chennai is third at around 25 per cent rate.
With 44 per cent test positivity rate, Gurgaon is likely missing hundreds of cases every day. But even without the true data, it has jumped places to make space in the country’s top 10 worst Covid-19 hotspot. It is currently at 9th position behind Mumbai, Chennai, Delhi, Thane, Ahmedabad, Pune, Indore, Kolkata.
But in all likelihood, it has already taken over at least Indore and Kolkata in total number of cases given the high positivity rate thanks to severe lack of testing.
The district administration has the capacity of only testing around 400 Covid-19 samples a day, grossly insufficient for a major city like Gurgaon which neighbours the national capital, already a hotspot for the past few weeks.
It seems that the Haryana government not only didn’t ramp up testing capacity in Gurgaon during lockdown but also failed to take the required measures despite seeing the situation develop from bad to worse in New Delhi. It resorted to easy fixes like sealing the border which proved to be ineffective.
All the six ICMR-approved private labs in Haryana are located in Gurgaon and they handle thirty per cent of the district’s testing capacity. But rather than focusing on roping in more private labs and encouraging the existing ones to do more tests, the state government recently launched an investigation against the private labs in Gurgaon for testing too many people.
It accused the labs of not following ICMR guidelines and testing people who didn’t have symptoms.
According to the labs, to put it simply, they are following the criteria and if someone is coming to them for a test with a prescription (which may or may not be gotten in the right manner), it’s not their problem. Nonetheless, it’s the labs which have become a target of the government’s wrath.
“People need not worry. We have made all arrangements,” Haryana’s Health Minister Anil Vij had assured the people before the start of this month. He told the media that ‘the quarantine bed facility available is 26,787, isolation beds are 8,929, ICU beds number 2,086, and 1,025 ventilators, 1.25 lakh PPE kits and 3.5 lakh N-95 masks are available.‘ But the minister and his government are failing at the first step itself - testing.
If people who need a test can’t get one, then there is no point in having beds or quarantine facilities or ICU beds because without being tested they would be forced to suffer at home anyway and all the facilities are of no use to them. It’s another matter that this method would also lead to more fatalities.
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