Paediatric Covid-19 testing still at 3% in Karnataka

As Karnataka govt allows full attendance for classes 6-12, paediatric Covid-19 testing still at 3%

The BBMP has 743 swab collectors across the city and tests symptomatic children at private paediatric hospitals

Daily RT-PCR testing was done for children after the schools reopened in Karnataka. Credit: AFP File Photo

On a day when the Karnataka government decided to allow schools to function in full capacity from class 6 to 12, five days a week, state health commissioner Dr K V Trilok Chandra said the paediatric Covid testing levels remained low at 3%, which shows no improvement from when the data was last reviewed on September 15.

Experts say Covid cases among children may go undetected if the paediatric sampling rate continues to remain low. 

The State Covid-19 Technical Advisory Committee (TAC), last Sunday, on September 19, had expressed concern over the low sampling rate among children and asked the government to ramp up testing to 10% within a week, which ends on Sunday, September 26. TAC says the third Covid wave may start in October or November. 

Dr C N Manjunath, state nodal officer for Covid-19 testing told DH, "Even after a week from September 15 to September 22, if the testing rate has remained 3%, as against TAC recommendation of 10%, Covid cases among children may go undetected, especially after schools are going to be in full attendance soon with today's decision."

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State Health Commissioner Dr K V Trilok Chandra told DH, "As of now we are doing only 3% Covid testing among children. By the coming week, we hope to reach 10%. We have done around 1.05 lakh Covid tests among children from August 23 to September 22, which accounts for 3% of the total Covid tests (including those of adults) done in this time period.

We are facing some challenges like hesitancy for RT-PCR testing, especially among children below five years of age, as there is discomfort when throat swabs are taken. Not just symptomatic children coming to health facilities, even asymptomatic children are being tested. The tests are being done as a part of the Arogya Nandana scheme by the Rashtriya Bal Swasthya Karyakram (RBSK) officials visiting schools."

Data shared by RBSK showed 1,41,274 samples were collected across the state from 12 to 17-year-olds studying in class 6 to class 12, from August 15 to September 22. According to this data, the BBMP collected only 104 samples in this period while Bangalore Urban district 2071 samples.

Also read: Karnataka schools cite logistics issues in reopening with 100% capacity

However, BBMP Special Commissioner (Health) D Randeep said on September 21 alone the BBMP had collected 4,675 Covid samples from the 0-18 years age group.

"On September 21, the elderly aged 60 years and above accounted for 4.21% (3,008) of the tests done. As many as 48,114 18-60-year-olds were tested. So kids accounted for 8.37% of the total samples tested on that day," he said.

The BBMP has 743 swab collectors across the city and tests symptomatic children at private paediatric hospitals like Shishuka and Rainbow Children's Hospitals, state-run Indira Gandhi Institute of Child Health, BBMP's Dr Babu Jagjivan Ram General Hospital, and BBMP paediatric Covid Care Centre at Regional Institute of Cooperative Management.

On being asked about the discrepancy in figures, Dr Trilok Chandra said, "We will ask our officials to compare and check data again."

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