New Delhi: Crossing a crucial milestone in the battle against COVID-19, a record number of over 12 lakh tests were conducted in the country for the detection of the disease in a span of 24 hours, taking the total number of such tests performed so far to more than 6.36 crore (6,36,61,060), the Centre said on Sunday.
This strongly demonstrates a substantial strengthening of the COVID-19 testing infrastructure in the country, the health ministry said, underlining that India's daily testing numbers are among the highest in the world.
From conducting merely 10,000 tests per day on April 8, the average daily number has crossed 12 lakh with 12,06,806 tests conducted on Saturday.
The last one crore tests were conducted in merely nine days and the Tests Per Million (TPM) have been boosted to 46,131, the ministry highlighted.
"Higher testing leads to early identification of positive cases and a timely and effective treatment. This eventually leads to a lower mortality rate," it said.
As evidence has revealed, higher numbers of testing also result in a lowered positivity rate, it added.
The sharp decline in the daily positivity rate has demonstrated that the rate of spread of the infection is being contained, the ministry underscored.
Higher testing forms an integral part of the "chase the virus" strategy, which aims to catch every missing person to curb the spread of the infection, it said, adding that the states have been advised that all symptomatic negatives of rapid-antigen tests should mandatorily be subjected to RT-PCR testing.
The Centre's policies in the context of COVID-19 are continuously evolving. Following several measures to facilitate a wider testing by people, the government has recently provided "testing on demand" for the first time, the ministry said.
The states and Union territories have also been given wider flexibilities to simplify the modalities in order to enable higher levels of testing.
The government has also allowed COVID-19 tests to be conducted on the prescription of any registered medical practitioner and not exclusively a government doctor.
The Centre has strongly advised the states and Union territories to take immediate steps to facilitate testing at the earliest by enabling all qualified medical practitioners, including private practitioners, to prescribe COVID tests to any individual fulfilling the criteria for testing in accordance with the guidelines issued by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).
Expanding the network of diagnostic laboratories and facilitating easy testing across the country have given a sharp boost to the enhanced testing numbers.
The country has performed remarkably on fulfilling the World Health Organization's (WHO) advice of 140 tests per day per 10-lakh population, the ministry said.
In its Guidance Note on "Public Health Criteria to Adjust Public Health and Social Measures in the Context of COVID-19", the WHO has advised this strategy.
"In another row of achievements, 35 states and Union territories have crossed the advised number of tests," the ministry said.
A prominent determinant of the strengthened testing numbers is the steadily widening diagnostic laboratory network in the country. This has grown to 1,773 laboratories -- 1,061 in the government sector and 712 private ones -- the ministry informed.
India's COVID-19 caseload has mounted to 54,00,619 with 92,605 people testing positive for the disease in a day, while the death toll has climbed to 86,752 with the virus claiming 1,133 lives in a span of 24 hours, health ministry's data updated at 8 am showed.