Ghaziabad: Considering the recent spike in coronavirus (Covid-19) cases in several states and the re-imposition of stricter restrictions, the district health department in Ghaziabad has decided to ramp up Covid-testing by about 25% as a precautionary measure. Officials said they have received directions to ensure quality testing, tracking and contact tracing as part of Covid-19 management.

Since last year up to Tuesday, the Ghaziabad district has registered a total of 26,727 Covid-19 cases, as per the state control room figures of February 21. This figure includes 102 deaths and 68 active cases. The testing in the district has seen a decline with a daily average of 2,014 tests conducted up to February so far, 2,433 in January, 3,323 in December, 4,057 in November, 4,065 in October and 3,928 in September.

“We have now planned to increase testing by about 25% of our existing average daily testing. The caseload has come down considerably, besides which few people are opting to get tested. Further, we released a number of our lab technicians (from their Covid duties) who then went back to urban primary health centres which were opened for attending to the general public,” said Dr NK Gupta, chief medical officer of the district.

“As of now, we have about 20 teams available with us for testing and some more lab technicians will be roped in to increase testing by about 25%. We will be able to do this in another week or so. In light of directions from the divisional commissioner (Meerut), we will increase testing as well as take up stricter measures for Covid-19 management,” Dr Gupta added.

District magistrate Ajay Shankar Pandey did not respond to calls.

According to the official figures of the state portal provided by the health department, the sample positivity rate in the current month is about 0.33%, with 150 positive cases emerging from a total of 45,417 Covid-19 tests in the month so far.

Sample positivity denotes the positive cases which have emerged from the total testing.

Likewise, the sample positivity has been running well below the 1% mark since January when it stood at 0.74%. In the past year, the district started with a positivity of 6.94% in the month of March last year, and it spiked to its highest at 19.93% in the month of June.

It was 5.92% in September 2020, and thereafter a gradual decline has been seen in subsequent months. Since the first case last year to February 22 of the current year, the overall sample positivity stood at 4.04%, according to official figures, with 29,616 positive reports from 733,940 tests conducted so far.

“Although there is no spike or surge being seen in the district as of now, the health department should increase testing to at least 5,000 per day with a wider coverage. They must also test people who are returning from states which are witnessing a spike in cases. Above all, the vaccination should be expedited on a daily basis or at least every alternate day. Otherwise, it will take a long time to administer the vaccine to such a large population,” said Dr Asheesh Agarwal, president of Indian Medical Association – Ghaziabad.

Over the issue of vaccination, the Uttar Pradesh government has decided to conduct a final mop-up round on February 25.

“Since there has been a spike in cases in several states, we need to take extra precautions. Side by side, our vaccination is going on swiftly with 714,500 healthcare workers having received the first dose and 101,936 of these have taken up the second dose. About 458,234 frontline workers have been given the first dose,” said Amit Mohan Prasad, UP’s additional chief secretary (health).

“Now, the final mop-up round will be on February 25 when the left out healthcare and frontline workers can come to get the first dose. If they fail to turn up, they will be moved to the age-appropriate groups under the third category and will have to wait for the vaccine,” he added.

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