By Bizodisha Bureau, Bhubaneswar, July 12, 2020: Odisha government appears to have deliberately refrained from more testing of people to identify people suffering from Covid-19 just to keep the toll figures low, a top official said on condition of anonymity.

The Naveen Patnaik government had announced 15,000 tests per day from June 1, but the actual numbers have been much less despite having adequate number of RT-PCR machines, Incidentally, Odisha took the lead in creating testing labs way ahead of many states.

And yet the testing of people has been going on a snail’s pace. The Government is also not sharing the data by saying that only symptomatic cases must be tested as per the ICMR guidelines.

Now that there has been a steep spike in the Covid-19 positive cases, the government has no option but to come out with a concrete strategy to combat the rapid rise. With cases on the rise, it has been forced to go in for buying more essentials for sero-survey and antigen tests.

Odisha on Sunday crossed the 13000 mark with 595 fresh cases, while three patients succumbed to the virus taking the total toll to 64 in the state, an official statement said.

Although the State Government continues to deny community transmission, virologists dispute its claim saying that this is evident from the fact that one-third people without having any travel history were infected during a short span of time.

Ganjam, the political home of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, happens to be the worst Covid-hit district in the state it accounts for close to 30 percent of the state’s case load. Of the 8.5 lakh migrants labourers who returned back home after the lockdown was imposed in March, Ganjam received the lion’s share.

Odisha Government had declared June as the most crucial month but now seems to be all at sea even after most of the returnees completed their mandatory quarantine in the temporary medical centres.

Experts have questioned the Government’s testing status and strategy across the state. Officials are appalled by the subtle instruction from third floor (Chief Minister’s Office) to go slow on testing to keep the numbers low at the national level.

In the state capital here, a Covid hotspot, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) on Saturday rolled out the first serial sero-survey to ascertain whether there is any community transmission of Covid-19 in the Capital city along with the extent of the spread of the virus in the population. Five teams from the Regional Medical Research Centre (RMRC) here collected the blood samples of people in different identified clusters using multistage random sampling method.

Data from the health and family welfare department so far indicates that diabetes has emerged as the most prominent underlying factor for the death due to COVID-19 in the state. More than 50 per cent of the patients, who have died of the pandemic so far, have been found to be diabetic.

According to the Health and Family Welfare department data, of 64 persons who have succumbed to the COVID-19 till date, as many as 35 were diabetic, thus accounting for 54.68 per cent of total deaths.

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