India saw another spike as the health authorities announced 96,551 cases in the past 24 hours on Friday as it ordered retesting of many people whose first results were from the less reliable rapid antigen tests being widely used.
According to the Health Ministry, India’s total caseload now stands over 4.56 million. It also reported on Friday another 1,209 deaths, taking total fatalities up to 76,271, reports AP.
India has the second-highest caseload behind the US, where more than 6.39 million people have been confirmed as infected.
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India’s health ministry has asked states to allow testing on-demand without a doctor’s prescription. It also said some negative rapid antigen tests should be redone through the more reliable RT-PCR method, the gold standard of coronavirus tests that looks for the genetic code of the virus.
The retesting order applied to people who had negative results but had fever, coughing or breathlessness, or people who developed those COVID-19 symptoms within three days of their negative test results.
The order was meant to ensure that infected people did not go undetected and to help check the spread the disease among their contacts.
Using the rapid antigen, or viral protein, tests have allowed India to dramatically increase its testing capacity to more than 1.1 million a day, but the quicker, cheaper test is less reliable and retesting is often recommended.
The directive came as 60 percent of India's cases have been reported from only five of the country's 28 states. Experts caution that India’s outbreak is entering a more dangerous phase as the virus spreads to smaller towns and villages.
With the economy contracting by a record 23.9 percent in the April-June quarter leaving millions jobless, the Indian government is continuing with relaxing lockdown restrictions that were imposed in late March.