According to ICMR, 75,150‬ samples were tested in 24 hours, from 9 am on May 17 to 9 am on May 18.

Blood sample being drawn from a person. Representational image
Coronavirus Coronavirus Monday, May 18, 2020 - 10:34

India has doubled down on its testing since the lockdown was announced on March 24, which has now been extended to May 31.

According to the Indian Council of Medical Research, a total of 23,02,792 samples had been tested as of 9 am on May 18. As per ICMR's bulletin, 75,150‬ samples were tested in 24 hours, from 9 am on May 17 to 9 am on May 18.

Here are the state-wise numbers as of 10 am on May 18:

> Andhra Pradesh has tested 2,38,998 samples out of which 2,38,998 were negative. As on May 17, the state has a total of 2,380 cases, with 1,456 recoveries and 50 deaths.

> Kerala has tested 45,027 samples so far and of these, 43,200 have returned negative. The state currently has 601 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with 497 recoveries and 4 deaths.

> Tamil Nadu has tested 3,26,720 samples so far, with 11,224 people testing positive. 3,15,019 samples tested negative and results of 477 samples are awaited. 4,172 people have recovered and 78 people have died due to the disease.

> Telangana had been providing sample numbers till April 30. However, the updated numbers since then are not known. A total of 1,551 people have tested positive so far, with 992 recoveries. The state has recorded 34 deaths so far.

> Karnataka has tested 1,45,398 samples, with 1,147 people testing positive and 1,43,444 samples returning negative. The state has recorded 37 COVID-19 deaths, while 509  persons have recovered. 

> Maharashtra has tested 2,73,239 samples, out of which 2,40,186 were negative and 33,053 have tested positive. 1,198 people have died from the disease in the state, while 7,688 have recovered.  

Public health experts have called for wider testing to check for community transmission of COVID-19. The Indian Council of Medical Research’s (ICMR) testing strategy has been expanded and all symptomatic patients with influenza-like illness (ILI) - those with fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose - need to be tested in hotspots/clusters (identified by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare) and in large migration gatherings/ evacuees centres. Symptomatic ILI patients will have to be tested within seven days of presenting with the illness.

Earlier, the guidelines limited testing to those who have international travel history and are symptomatic; those who have contact history with a confirmed COVID-19 case and have symptoms of the virus; healthcare workers who are symptomatic; patients hospitalised with Severe Acute Respiratory Illness (SARI); and a direct or high-risk contact of a confirmed COVID-19 case who can be symptomatic or asymptomatic.

Presently, only the RT-PCR or the reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction test can detect the presence of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. However, ICMR has allowed places that are hotspots (high number of cases) to test residents using the rapid antibody kits, which can deliver results within 30-45 minutes as opposed to 24 hours that an RT-PCR test. However, a positive result by the rapid antibody test will have to be further tested by the RT-PCR test to confirm for the novel coronavirus. ICMR advises those with a negative result by the rapid antibody test to be home quarantined.  

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