N has done 3.37 lakh virus tests, highest in India, says govt

Chennai, May 18 (PTI) While three women died and 536 people tested positive for coronavirus on Monday, taking the total number of cases to 11,760, the Tamil Nadu government asserted that the state has done 3,37 lakh tests so far, the highest number in the whole country.

The three women, aged between 53 and 70 years, died here at government hospitals.

Two of them died on Sunday and another today.

Of the 536 new cases, 46 were from Maharashtra and 304 were men and 232 women , a health department bulletin said.

As on date 7,270 were the active cases, it said.

So far, 11,760 people have tested positive, of which 4,406 have been discharged following recovery.

As many as 234 went home today alone after overcoming the illness.

On May 15, the number of recovered people was 359 and it was 939 and 634 on Saturday and Sunday respectively.

Health Minister C Vijayabaskar, meanwhile, refuted DMK president M K Stalin's allegation that the Tamil Nadu government had reduced the volume of tests.

'An opinion that tests have come down is not acceptable and it is entirely wrong.

In the whole of India, we are doing the highest number of tests.

We make early diagnosis, treat people, facilitate their recovery and bring down the number of deaths,' he said, adding such best practices to tackle COVID-19 were even lauded by a Central team.

No particular number is pre-determined by the government for carrying out testing for any given day.

'Is it possible to do so?,' he asked, adding all RT-PCR tests are barcoded and no single test can be underplayed.

Also, the testing data was being uploaded real time in Central government portals.

Stalin had alleged that the government had cut down the number of tests to 8,270 on May 16 as against 14,102 on May 7.

'We have done the highest number of tests in India. So far 3,37,841 tests have been done in Tamil Nadu (from February 1), which is the highest.

In Chennai city alone we have carried out 85,000 tests,' he said.

Today, 11,121 samples have been tested.

Remarks that tests have come down in Tamil Nadu are both not true and anguishing and 'in the name of criticism, levelling accusation is not acceptable,' he said.

Doctors, paramedics and technicians involved in the testing process do painstaking work and it calls for praise, he said.

Tests were being done as per protocol and several factors like the number of people arriving from foreign countries, other states or districts, testing of contacts and those with severe acute respiratory infection and influenza like illness together make up the aggregate number of tests daily, he said and indicated that there may some variance.

On an average, for the past ten days, 12,536 tests were being done every day, he said and added that it must not be assumed that tests have come down by merely looking at some variance in the number of tests for specific days.

'No one is left out of testing and the exercise is being done asper Central government guidelines.

The new challenge is the arrival of people from other states,' he said.

Clusters like the Koyambedu market and another related to a conference in Delhi were managed well by aggressive testing, he poined out.

Also, 'now we have 61 testing facilities, of which 39 are in government hospitals and 22 in private centres and there is no scope for reducing tests intentionally,' he said, adding such a big testing capacity was a 'huge achievement.' The State-run King's Institute of Preventive Medicine and Research here was the second facility to undertake tests in the country after the National Institute of Virology in Pune, he claimed.

According to the bulletin, Chennai continued to be on the top of the list of virus cases with a count of 7,117, of which 5,460 are active cases and 56 people died as on date here.

Of the total of 1,961 people who arrived from abroad, 13 have tested positive. PTI VGNAPR RAVINDRANATH VGNAPR RAVINDRANATH