An aggressive Rapid Antigen Testing (RAT) drive for COVID-19 testing is underway in Jammu and Kashmir’s Jammu division and 34,000 tests have already been conducted in the last 10 days.
According to Dr Ritesh Shan, the district nodal officer, the aggressive testing program by the union territory’s administration has been in place since August 26 and the coronavirus positive rate stands at around five per cent.
“Through this testing drive, we have been able to identify high-risk zones and are taking a targeted cluster approach. About 6,000 RATs are conducted daily and approximately five per cent of the total tests have returned positive so far,” he said.
“Initially, RT-PCR tests were conducted but it was only suitable for individual testing as results can take up to 36 hours to come, whereas the RAT takes just 30 minutes and is much more suitable for bulk testing. This is much more efficient and also reduces the psychological stress that a person has to go through before getting their results,” Shan said.
He added, “On August 29, the government announced that asymptomatic COVID-19 patients can isolate at home instead of being admitted to a hospital. As soon as the results of the test come, we inform the patient then and there. In the following days, the reach-out team provides pulse oximeters and follows up on their health. This aggressive testing is the best way to break the chain of infection and we encourage everyone to come and get tested. Through this drive, we will be able to identify and isolate, and slowly start to remove the stigma attached to the virus.”
As per Shan, 90 testing teams have been assembled by the district disaster management.
“There are 36 urban teams. Two teams are assigned in each of the nine urban centres in Jammu. The rest are spread across other areas, including the testing of the High Court staff and officials. The district disaster management chairperson has given each team the target of 1,500 tests per day,” he added.