At present, Karnataka’s COVID-19 Test Positivity Rate is 12.1% and Mortality Rate stands at 1.54%

Karnataka’s high Test Positivity Rate (TPR) and low Mortality Rate (MR) may be placing the State in a better position in comparison to Maharashtra where both TPR and MR are high. But, according to experts, the coming week, when a further surge in numbers is being projected, is crucial for Karnataka. The State now needs to strive towards achieving low TPR and low MR at the earliest, experts assert.

TPR, the percentage of patients who have tested positive, is a powerful tool to measure the spread of virus in a region at a given point of time. MR, the percentage of deceased patients among the total number of positive patients, reflects the severity of the virus in the region and also the qualitative and timely medical intervention. These are the prominent COVID-19 indicators for assessing the progress of States.

Giridhara R. Babu, member of the State’s COVID-19 Technical Advisory Committee, said generally during a pandemic/epidemic, States are classified into four quadrants: high TPR/low MR, low TPR/low MR, low TPR/high MR, and high TPR/high MR. “The toughest combo is low TPR and high MR. With a TPR of 12.1% and MR of 1.54%, Karnataka needs to strive and achieve low TPR and low MR at the earliest to fall in the quadrant of mega States such as Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, and Haryana that have low TPR and low MR,” he said.

Mysore Sanjeev, convener of Project Jeevan Raksha, a public-private partnership initiative involving Public Health Foundation of India and Proxima, a management consulting firm, said the coming week is crucial for Karnataka. “If it does not improve its performance in the coming week, then it will not take long for the State to move into the quadrant where Maharashtra is currently in – with a high TPR, high MR,” he said.

Need of the hour

Dr. Babu said the need of the hour is to chalk out and implement a well co-ordinated action plan on COVID-19 management in the semi-urban and rural areas, similar to what is being done in Bengaluru.

“The public-private partnership in terms of sharing of hospital beds being done in Bengaluru should be replicated at the district level. We should involve all private hospitals there as the pandemic is spreading rapidly in rural areas,” he said. The State should take up a robust information, education and communication (IEC) campaign to remove stigma around testing, he added.

‘Delayed testing behind surge’

Karnataka’s current surge in COVID-19 numbers is due to delayed and low testing during March-June period, according to experts.

Mysore Sanjeev, convener of Project Jeevan Raksha, a public-private partnership initiative involving Public Health Foundation of India and Proxima, a management consulting firm, said: “Up to June 30, Karnataka had done only 6.2 lakh tests, 15% of the total 40,58,313 tests conducted till date. The rapid spread of the virus leading to a surge in the number of cases and deaths from July is due to this low testing,” he said.

Karnataka, which was considered a benchmark State in COVID-19 management in June, became one of the most affected States in July-August. As on June 30, Karnataka had a TPR of 2.45%, whereas the national average was 6.63%. Now, Karnataka’s TPR is 12.1% as against the national average of 7.7%.

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