A medical staff member takes a swab sample from a child to test for the COVID-19 novel coronavirus in Jian in China's central Jiangxi province on 13 May 2020.
A medical staff member takes a swab sample from a child to test for the COVID-19 novel coronavirus in Jian in China's central Jiangxi province on 13 May 2020.Reuters

The number of COVID-19 cases reported by the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) at the regular bulletin on Tuesday was less than that of the preceding day. But the drop was no relief as highest number of deaths as well as new cases were reported over 24 hours on Wednesday. The number of deaths on the day was 19 and new cases reported was 1,162. This implies that the rate of infection is rising, rather than declining.

The drop in detection on Tuesday was due to less number of tests. Some 6,773 tests were carried out on Tuesday while 7,208 tests were carried out on Monday. This means the number of tests decreased by 450 resulting in less identified patients. In the following 24 hours 7,900 tests were carried out and cases passed 1,100.

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This means there is no alternative to increased tests to get the actual picture of infection in the country. But a conservative position has been prevalent since the very beginning. There has been no logical explanation to this either. When the number of detection crossed record 1,000 in country, number of tests was decreased by 450 on the following day. Naturally, this raises questions. But no answers were available in the media. Because the media can only report the information that is shared by the concerned government authorities. The scope for journalists to question regarding COVID-19 this has been obstructed.

The experts cannot even identify the actual scenario of COVID-19 pandemic in the country. Because, testing rates are so low. Till Wednesday, the number of detection was 17,822. But experts say the number would multiply if more tests were carried out. We are lagging behind neighbouring India and Pakistan regarding test rates. Test rate is 1.28 per thousand in Pakistan whereas it is 1.17 in India. For Bangladesh, this rate is 0.71. The rate is much higher in Europe and America, for example 41 in Italy, 34 in Spain, 18.71 in Britain, 28.3 in Canada and 26 in the US.

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The World Health Organisation (WHO) has been stressing tests from the beginning. Test is the primary method for identifying the trend of the infection and taking necessary measures accordingly. But testing has been neglected in our country from the very beginning. Some 35 labs have been arranged in the country for testing, still why is the testing rate so poor here? There are questions regarding the standard too.

Experts say tests should be increased to at least 10,000 per day as the infection has spread across the country. Or else the epidemic scenario will worsen and go out of control.