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India is conducting 18-20 lakh tests for detection of COVID-19 per day, the ICMR chief said on Tuesday underlining that despite infection among laboratory staff, the test performance is still being maintained.

At a press conference, ICMR director general Dr Balram Bhargava said that the national COVID-19 positivity rate is around 21 per cent and about 42 per cent (310/734) of the districts are reporting a positivity rate more than the national average.

Stressing that early testing, isolation and home-based care is the key to control transmission, Bhargava said, "The RT-PCR testing capacity is about 16 lakh per day in our laboratories and RAT capacity is also around 17 lakh per day."

"Laboratories are working 24X7 to meet the increased testing demand. Despite infection among laboratory staff, test performance is still being maintained," he said.

Giving an example, Bhargava said that in the month of April and May, they were doing, on an average, 16-20 lakh RTPCR and RAT tests combined per day.

On April 30, India conducted 19,45,299 tests for detection of COVID-19 that is the highest number of tests by any country ever, he said, stressing even the US has never reached this number. On May 5, 19,23,131 tests were conducted.

"So, we are hovering around 18-20 lakh per day except for on Sundays when we find a dip of one or two lakh," he said.

There are at present 2,520 COVID-19 government and private molecular testing labs, over 7,000 RT-PCR machines and over 3,800 TrueNat and CBNAAT machines.
 
A total 30,04,10,043 samples have been tested up to May 7 in India.
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