Survey Finds COVID Cases Underreported By 40% In Delhi-NCR

| Updated: 04 May, 2022 10:30 am IST
The Million Mutinies are still raging, though they have now assumed a different character (TNI Photo By Sumit Kumar)


NEW DELHI: A survey in the Delhi-NCR found that there is a 40% undercounting in COVID cases reported in April.

The survey also showed that 42% of Delhi-NCR residents who had symptoms and took the COVID test in the last 30 days took only the at-home Rapid Antigen Test.

The survey conducted by LocalCircles, a Community Social Media platform that enables citizens and small businesses to escalate issues for policy and enforcement interventions and enables the Government to make policies that are citizen and small business centric, showed that 39% of Delhi-NCR families had 1 or more individuals who got tested for COVID in April.

Of those Delhi-NCR residents who took a COVID test in the last 30 days, only 33% of them took the RT-PCR test. While 42% of those who had symptoms and took the COVID test took the at-home rapid antigen test, another 16% primarily took the at-home rapid antigen test and then an RT-PCR test.

As COVID cases rose again in Delhi-NCR after the mask mandate was removed from April 1, the test positivity rate (TPR) rose from under 1% to 5% within the first 15 days of the month.

While this has been happening, residents of Delhi and NCR cities of Gurugram, Noida, Ghaziabad and Faridabad have been writing on LocalCircles about how most people in their family and friends are just opting for the at-home antigen test and are not taking the RT-PCR test anymore.

Positive cases that arise from these at-home tests are not reported anywhere and the government data does not count them in official case figures. However, a lot of government containment measures and restrictions are based on the test positivity rates.

The concern is that if a lot of symptomatic positive residents decide to take the at-home rapid antigen test, even the daily TPR could be significantly understated as these individuals aren’t taking the RT-PCR test or part of any antigen test camps organised by the government in community locations like markets, schools, etc.

The key here is for all District Administrators, State Governments and Central Government to understand that the daily case counts reported could be understated by a magnitude of 40-60% and the same could go up further as antigen test kits reach every corner of India.

If the tracking of COVID is important, it is critical for ICMR and the Ministry of Health to institute a process where the test results are mandatorily connected to a mobile app or number and uploaded.

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