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Ghaziabad increases RT-PCR testing in high incidence areas

In the wake of the fact the rapid antigen tests are not always reliable when it comes to testing to detect the coronavirus (Covid-19) disease, the Ghaziabad district officials have now started deploying more reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) tests in areas such as Indirapuram and Vaishali as well as city areas from which high numbers of cases have come up.

Rapid antigen testing was started in the district on June 26.

According to official records, areas of Indirapuram and Vaishali, among others, which fall under the jurisdiction of the Indirapuram police station, had about 84 containment zones with 151 active cases till August 7, while other localities in city areas under the Sihani Gate and Kavi Nagar police stations had 68 and 57 containment zones with 163 and 162 active cases, respectively, till August 7.

“A lot of tests have been conducted in the district with the help of rapid antigen kits. Since areas from where a lot of cases were reported are still topping the charts, we have decided to focus increasingly on RT-PCR testing. This is because RT-PCR tests are more reliable than rapid antigen tests. So, to find out more suspected cases we have decided to increase the daily number of RT-PCR tests in such areas,” said Ajay Shankar Pandey, district magistrate.

“Rapid tests will continue but the number of RT-PCR tests will be increased to find out positive cases from suspected cases such as influenza-like illness (ILI) and severe acute respiratory illness (SARI) among other high risk groups,” he added.

According to officials, the district has been taking up about 1,500 rapid tests and another 1,000 RT-PCR tests per day, currently.

The high risk groups include close contacts of Covid-19 positive cases as well as persons with co-morbidity and old age, among others.

According to figures of the health department, the district till August 7 conducted a total of 1,24,639 tests out of which 73,966 were through rapid antigen kits which were roped in on June 26. Out of the total results from the rapid tests, only 1,853 came out positive, at a rate of 2.5%, while the rest, 3,813 of a total of 5,666 total cases on August 7, came out positive with the help of RT-PCR tests at a rate of about 7.5%.

“Since positivity rate through the use of rapid antigen kits is lower than the RT-PCR tests and the fact that cases are still rising from the high incidence areas, we have decided to deploy about 500 more RT-PCR tests daily at our two centres in Indirapuram and Vaishali and more will be done soon in other high incidence areas. With this, we will be able to find out positive cases from the suspected cases better,” said an officer from the district health department, who wished not to be named.

To gauge the difference, a total of 73,966 rapid tests yielded 1,853 positive results. Out of those turning negative, 26,056 tests were conducted through RT-PCR tests to find true negative status of those who tested negative through rapid kits.

Out of the 26,056 subsequent RT-PCR tests, 22,444 tests have been conducted so far and resulted in 1,097 positive cases while the result of the rest, 3,612, is awaited. The subsequent RT-PCR tests are taken up only for symptomatic patients and also for all patients having comorbid conditions.

Experts said an increase in the number of RT-PCR tests will yield better results.

“Since the RT-PCR test is more reliable, an increase in these tests will help us find out more positive cases. This will help for better detection in suspected cases and once positive, they can immediately be sent for treatment. On the other hand, the rapid kits have low positivity but their high use will bring down the overall test positivity,” said Dr VB Jindal, president of Indian Medical Association – Ghaziabad.

According to the official records of the health department, during the week from May 31 to June 6, the test positivity in Ghaziabad stood at 9.19% while it increased to 15.33% during the week, June 21 to June 27. However, ever since the rapid kits were deployed on June 26, the positivity is on decline with more number of tests.

During the week June 28 to July, it stood at 5.29% and has now come down to 2.97% during the week August 2 to August 8. – Hindustan Times

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