More testing may see Mumbai become corona capital again PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 29 June 2020 06:34
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Mumbai’s success in controlling the spread in slums like Dharavi has played a big role in the city’s slowing Covid-19 infections, but that is not the only reason why the nation’s capital has also become the country’s Covid capital; on Thursday, with 70,390 infections, Delhi overtook Mumbai which had 69,625 infections.

An equally big reason for this, however, was also the fact that while Delhi has ramped up testing levels from 6,045 on June 1 to 17,533 on June 21, Mumbai has been almost stagnant, with the level of daily testing rising from 3,066 to just 4,206 during the same period.

A good way to see how many extra infections Mumbai would have had were more testing to be done is to examine the ‘positivity’ levels, or the number of fresh infections as a proportion of the number of tests. The positivity rates in Mumbai were 33.6 in the first week of June and this fell to 27 in the latest week.

Since Delhi did, on an average, 12,000 more tests than Mumbai every day for the last week, this means 84,000 extra over the week; at a positivity rate of 27%, Mumbai would have had 22,680 more infections. This would take the total number of cases in the city to 92,305 versus Delhi’s 70,000.

It is possible, of course, that Delhi’s infections – they rose by 23,288 over the week versus 14,292 in the week before that – may have grown faster if Delhi had done more RT-PCR tests instead of the rapid antigen tests that show a lower rate of positive results (this is a flaw, which is why most recommend using the RT-PCR on persons who test negative in an antigen test). Separate data on the positivity of RT-PCR versus antigen tests, however, has not been made public.

Mumbai, as it happens, is not the only place to be testing too little. Gujarat’s tests have been in the 4,500 to 6,000 range for over a month now, whereas positivity rates have stayed the same at 10.7%. Some states which have increased testing have seen positivity rates shoot up. Haryana, for instance, was doing 2,893 tests a month ago versus 5,049 now has seen a near 10-time jump in positivity rate to 9.5%.


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