Kohima: As getting tested for COVID-19 is a ‘vital epidemiological tool’ to determine if a person is infected or not, Nagaland’s health department said that the COVID-19 testing rate in the state is the lowest in the country at 112,330 per million compared to the national average of 310,790 per million.

Dr Neikhielie Khimiao, the principal director of health and family welfare, said that it has been directed by the High Powered Committee (HPC) on COVID-19 to expand the testing for the coronavirus in the state. For this, ‘Mission X5’ has been developed to guide and facilitate the chief medical officers (CMOs), medical superintendents (MS) and district task forces (DTFs) to expedite COVID-19 testing.

Mission X5 will target up to five times the average number of tests done in the districts.

As per the data provided, the number of tests per million at present is 21,496 in Wokha, 41,569 in Kiphire, 43,583 in Phek, 46,642 in Zunheboto, 55,707 in Longleng, 62,413 in Tuensang, 64,244 in Mokokchung, 77,317 in Mon, 84,364 in Peren, 213,827 in Kohima and 235,632 in Dimapur.

The mission provides instructions and guidelines on measures to improve COVID-19 testing across the state. Through the mission, all medical directors and superintendents have been directed to ensure that the COVID-19 testing goal assigned to the district is achieved.

At present, the positivity rate is around 7% in the state with wide variations between districts — Mokokchung (19%), Kohima (15%), Peren (9%), Wokha (7%), Dimapur (6%) and Tuensang ( 5%) while the rate in the remaining districts is less than 5%.

He said that the positivity rate will be high if the number of positive tests is too high or if the total number of tests is too low.

“A higher positive percentage suggests higher transmission and that there are probably more people with coronavirus in the community who have not yet been tested,” he added.

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The health official said that breaking the chain of transmission and preventing the virus from replication and mutation, besides early detection and isolation of potentially infectious individuals are the keys to successfully fighting a viral pandemic.

He added that low testing, poor health seeking behavior, low vaccination coverage coupled with not adherence to COVID-19 appropriate behaviour and flouting of quarantine norms, unless effectively tackled, would lead to serious consequences.

As directed by the HPC, Khimiao ordered necessary measures to be taken by all DTFs to ramp up COVID-19 testing in the state.

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