New Delhi: India’s Covid-positivity rate — the number of cases reported among the total samples tested — shot up to 11.4 per cent Sunday, which is the second highest rate of this month. This means of the 100 samples tested, 11 people tested positive for Covid.
The national Covid positivity rate has been around 7-8 per cent on most days so far, except Sundays. The positivity rate on Sundays is usually around 9 per cent as fewer samples get tested, but this Sunday was higher than the usual.
Experts, however, said high positivity rate means India has optimised its testing and that it has less “missing cases” now. It also points to India’s increasing infection burden, they added.
On Sunday, India tested 1.7 lakh samples, of which 19,459 samples tested positive. This is much lower than 2 lakh samples that India has been testing since 23 June.
This is the second time the number of positive cases crossed 19,000. The first time the figure crossed the 19,000-mark was on 27 June, when India recorded 19,906 cases.
The highest positivity rate of 12.3 per cent this month was recorded on 20 June when 1.9 lakh samples were tested, of which 15,412 were positive.
India is witnessing an unabated increase in its Covid cases. It took 110 days for India to reach 1 lakh cases, but just 39 days to reach 5 lakh cases.
India now has the fourth highest number of positive cases in the world after the US, Brazil and Russia.
As of Monday afternoon, the total number of Covid cases in the country is 5,48,318 with 2,10,120 active cases and 16,475 deaths.
Optimisation in testing
According to experts, there could be many reasons for the high number of testing, but the chief among them is that India has optimised its testing and has less “missing cases” now.
“India’s testing response has matured, where it is testing those who are more likely to test positive like those who are symptomatic and high risk,” said Tanmay Mahapatra, an epidemiologist working with CARE India, a non-profit that is supporting Bihar in its Covid-19 efforts.
The high number of cases also point to India’s increasing Covid burden. “India is detecting about 20,000 new cases each day. This means the infection is spreading in the community as is expected at this stage of its disease progression,” he added.
Also, as India ramped up its testing to 2 lakh samples each day, the test is now widely available across states and those who had no access to tests before are also getting tested. This apart, use of antigen tests would have also played a part, Mahapatra said.
India has recently included rapid antigen tests in its testing drive, which Delhi has been using since 18 June. Of the 1,09,196 tests conducted between 18 and 23 June in Delhi, 68,041 or 62 per cent were by rapid antigen tests.
Due to its high specificity and low sensitivity, samples which test negative via antigen tests are not considered to be truly negative, but samples that test positive are considered to be confirmed positive.
The Indian Council of Medical Research’s testing figures that are updated everyday, include results from RT-PCR, TrueNat and CBNAAT tests.
The number of samples that test positive via all these tests are included in the total tally of those tested positive, ICMR officials had earlier told ThePrint.