India’s COVID-19 testing rate low compared to other countries, says WHO chief scientist

World Health Organization chief scientist Soumya Swaminathan said on Tuesday that India has one of the lowest coronavirus testing rates in the world. 

WHO Chief Scientist Dr Soumya Swaminathan. Photo courtesy: Twitter/@doctorsoumya
WHO Chief Scientist Dr Soumya Swaminathan. Photo courtesy: Twitter/@doctorsoumya

“India as a whole, the testing rates are much lower compared to some of the countries who have done well like Germany, Taiwan, South Korea, Japan,” Swaminathan said, as reported by PTI. “Even the United States is testing a huge number of people. So we need to have some benchmark and every public health department needs to have benchmarks on what is the rate of testing per lakh or per million, what is the test positivity rate.”

Swaminathan was speaking at an online interactive session, moderated by Telangana Minister for IT and Industries KT Rama Rao.  

As per the Indian Council of Medical Research, India has carried out 2.08 crore COVID-19 tests of August 3. India’s population stands at about 138 crore.

According to Swaminathan, the number of tests being conducted is not sufficient if the positivity rate is above 5%. She also went on to say that without adequate testing, fighting the pandemic is like “fighting fire blindfolded”. 

Swaminathan said that governments around the world need to constantly monitor the availability of beds, quarantine facilities, Intensive Care Units and oxygen supplies in district hospitals.

She also said that with the virus spreading to almost every country in the world, there is clear evidence of community transmission.

“We know that lockdowns are temporary measures or a temporary measure which reduces the spread because it prevents people from getting closer together and the idea of the lockdown is to buy time for the government to put in place the system needed to tackle the virus,” she said.

CtoI News Desk
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