Low number of tests, low new cases Test, Trace, Treat

Low number of tests, low number of new cases detected. This has been the trend in Manipur for the last few days and since August 20 the number of tests conducted each day has always been below the 4000 mark and correspondingly the number of new cases detected per day has been below the 400 mark. The absolute number is comforting but to go by this alone would be missing the trees for the woods for the fact stands that the daily positivity rate has always been above the 10 percent mark. In fact the lowest daily positivity rate recorded so far during the month of August is the 9.29 percent reported on August 17. All the other days had returned figures of above the 10 percent mark in the daily positivity count. This should mean that the low count is not so much about the spread of the virus declining, but more about a case of the number of tests conducted daily declining. This is a cause of concern for this goes against the slogan of Test, Trace, Treat. Why has there been a drop in the number of tests conducted daily ? This is a question which only the State Government can answer but there are two possibilities that can be likely. It could be that the people coming out to be tested, or feel compelled to get oneself tested has come down appreciably or it could be that the Government has stopped aggressive testing of the people. Whatever may be one of the possibilities, the fact is, the virus is still out there and it continues to spread at will, infecting people left, right and centre. And this is where the Government owes it to the people to explain why the number of tests has seen a huge drop in the last few days. Or is it a case of the Government unable to meet the demand of the day ? Not a comfortable thought at all, but if the virus is to be defeated then the slogan, Test, Trace, Treat can be ignored at one’s own peril. On August 20, the number of tests conducted was 3642 and the number of new infection enumerated was 372. However the daily positivity rate then stood at 10.2 percent. This means that out of every 100 persons tested, 10.2 people returned positive results. Not at all a comforting thought, but the more uncomfortable thought is the false sense of comfort that the low number of new positive cases may give to the people. This should be avoided at all cost and this is where the Health Department may need to come out and spell out the exact situation at the ground reality to the public.
Absolute number of cases has the propensity to lull the people into a sense of complacency and this is a situation Manipur would need to avoid at all cost. Let it also be very clear to everyone that restrictions have been gradually lifted, not because the virus has been reined in but because of economic compulsion. Despite this, a look at the roads of Imphal on any given day will convey the message that this fact has blown over the heads of a large number of people. ‘Step out only when it is absolutely necessary,’ is the line that greets anyone when a number is dialled and the important question is whether the importance of the line has been accepted  by the people or not. Absolutely necessary, this is what the people should keep in mind, for remember the virus can infect anyone and no one is immune. This has been pointed out earlier, but it would help that much more if the COVID-19 Common Control Room can give a daily update on the number of tests conducted in each district along with the overall figure. This can go a long way in letting the people understand why a certain district returns no case on one day and suddenly reports new cases in double digit the next day. Working out the daily positivity rate districtwise is necessary if the fight against the virus is to have any substantive meaning.