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Sunday November 28, 2021

Alarming drop in Corona testing capacity by 56pc across Pakistan

July 14, 2020

KARACHI: There has been an alarming drop in the number of Covid-19 tests being conducted across the country to a whooping 56 per cent.

According to the Federal Health Ministry officials, Pakistan has 99 corona testing laboratories, where the total capacity of testing corona cases is 43,636 per day, but in the last two days, even that has dropped to 24,496 due to unknown reasons. According to WHO, aggressive testing and tracking alone can help understand the extent of transmission and virulence of Covid-19 in any country.

While it was expected that Pakistan would enhance its testing capacity to 100,000 tests a day, it has done quite the opposite dropping their number to a dismal 24,496 countrywide, federal health dept sources confirm. “This would never portray the factual picture of the prevailing infection and would never help strategise its management,” epidemiologists and infection control specialists fear.

According to the federal govt sources, Punjab has 34 laboratories with a capacity of 16,470 tests everyday which has dropped to 7,745. In case of Sindh, the 24 labs can do 13,900 tests daily, but that too has dropped to 10,669. Similarly in the KPK, its 14 labs can conduct 2,910 tests in a day but that too has dropped to staggering 1,829.

Balochistan only has five laboratories that can only conduct 2,220 tests, but now that too has dropped. In case of Gilgit Baltistan and Azad Kashmir, they have a woeful three labs each with testing capacity of 360 and 376 respectively. But this has now dropped to 53 and 326 tests per day.

The situation in the federal territory is worse than the entire country where 16 testing laboratories could only conduct 7,400 tests and now that too has gone down to 243.Epidemiologists and specialists in infection control consider this major slump in testing capacity as alarming. According to them the rate of testing is inversely proportional to the incidence of infection and not the other way around as being proclaimed that the number of infections have taken a plunge.

They are of the view that without surge in testing capacity to at least 10,000 per day, one would never understand the contours of the virus spread.