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Doctors wonder if testing has been reduced in Belagavi

Officer says there is no deliberate attempt at it but trends noted are arrived at in a scientific manner

The State government has said that the number of COVID-19 positive cases and the rate of death due to the virus infection have both reduced in October. Doctors, however, contest this saying that the figures are low because the government has reduced testing.

Deputy Commissioner M.G. Hiremath said in a release that the rate of incidence of the epidemic and the resultant deaths were on the decline since the first week of October.

According to the officer, the rate of death has fallen to 0.4 % from over one per cent in July. There have been a total of 328 deaths in the 10 taluks of the district till now.

He also said that over 94 % of the afflicted had been cured completely. As many as 23,020 of the 24,039 positive patients had been cured of the virus infection. The district now has only 961 active cases.

Another intriguing fact is that the district civil hospital, that has over 700 beds dedicated to coronavirus treatment, has just 80 positive cases. The other beds are empty. Since the government stopped treatment of all other diseases in the hospital, there are no in-patients other than those with COVID-19. Among the out-patient departments, only emergencies and medico legal cases are being treated.

Doctors say that the government’s figures are based on manufactured data. “The fall in the number of positives and the number of deaths is the result of reduced testing and nothing else,” said a doctor, who is a member of the district COVID management team.

“In mid August, the Union government pointed out that Belagavi was among the districts with a low testing rate in the State. Our rate of testing is still the lowest. Our tests per million are 10 times less than districts such as Udupi or Dakshina Kannada,” the senior physician said.

“We were doing over 4,300 tests in August-September. We have dropped to 1,500 tests in October. Considering that the district population is nearly 55 lakh, the tests per million have dropped by almost half. There is no clarity about the reasons behind this. We don’t know if the government is trying to send a positive message to the public about the spread of the epidemic,” the medical officer said.

Mr. Hiremath said that there was no deliberate attempt by the government to fudge figures or reduce testing. He said that the trends noted were arrived at in a scientific manner. He, however, said that he would ask Health Department officers to take a look at such complaints.

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