Maharashtra: Unreported COVID-19 cases tested at home spark fresh concern
Authorities in Maharashtra fear that several COVID-19 cases are going unreported as the demand for at-home testing kits has surged over the last month. Already, the state is reporting the most number of confirmed cases in India and active infections have grown five times over one month. The matter has been raised by the COVID-19 national task team.
Why does it matter?
- Over the past week alone, Maharashtra's daily COVID-19 cases have grown nearly five times to 26,538 on Wednesday.
- The unreported tests at home indicate that the original outbreak in Maharashtra is worse than it appears.
- Notably, 797 of India's 2,630 cases involving the more contagious Omicron variant of coronavirus are also concentrated in Maharashtra.
Home testing sales spike; fewer tests reported
In December, 17,841 self-test results were reported to the BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), and similar figures were reported in August. However, sales of the COVID-19 testing kit CoviSelf increased by roughly 200% in the third wave, MyLab Discovery Solutions Director Sujit Jain told The Indian Express. In December, MyLab had sold 25,000 kits in Mumbai, according to The Times of India.
'Sold more than 400 kits on certain days'
Local chemists confirmed that self-test kits are among their best-selling items since the rise of infections in late December. "We are selling 200-300 kits in a day," Red Rose chemist owner Ranjit Ranawat told TOI. "On certain days, we have sold more than 400 kits." "The demand was such that there was a stock out for a few days," he said.
How do at-home testing kits work?
All the at-home testing kits have a unique QR code to assure traceability and validity, as per the protocol. "When you take the test, you have to download the app and take a picture of the result," Jain told TIE. "The report is submitted to the ICMR website directly." As the tests have a lower capability, there is a substantial risk of negative cases.
How do the cases go unreported?
However, users are not required to upload their results on the app. Since a single control line indicates "negative" and two lines (control and test) indicate a "positive" result, many skip uploading results fearing isolation and quarantine. "We're aware of the situation and will take the required steps to ensure that the positive cases don't go unreported," Maharashtra surveillance officer Pradip Awate told TIE.