Karnataka to do pooled covid-19 tests to reduce costs

Agencies
October 24, 2020

Bengaluru, Oct 24: The state government hopes to save costs on Covid testing by adopting pooled sampling. In this process, instead of testing just one sample in one test tube, five samples are used.

However, this can be done only when there are greater chances of samples being negative, since, if a sample pool tests positive, then each sample has to be individually tested again.

Now, with 10 districts of Bidar, Gadag, Raichur, Koppal, Kalaburagi, Yadgir, Ramanagara, Shivamogga, Chamarajanagar, and Kolar, having less than 5% weekly positivity rate, the state has allowed pooled sampling here.

However, in the rest of the 20 districts, individual tests will continue till they have a weekly average positivity rate of less than 5%. The government pays Rs 800 for every sample’s RTPCR test in a private lab. In Karnataka, 65% of labs are private and more than one lakh tests are done at government and private labs.

In Ramanagara district, which has a TPR of 4.1%, district surveillance officer Dr Kiran Shankar said, “We have a target of testing 800 samples with RT PCR everyday.”

“While pooling samples, we will make sure they are of low risk categories and not SARI, ILI or of patients with comorbidities. In pooling, the cost incurred on reagents added to samples and consumables will come down,” he said.

“Earlier, we would test only 96 samples in one cycle, which would take two-and-a-half hours. Now, we can pool and test 480 samples and get the results in a short time.”

Dr C N Manjunath, state nodal officer for Covid-19 testing, explained the process. “If Ramanagara has a target of testing 800 samples everyday via RT PCR, instead of using 800 test tubes for 800 samples separately, 160 tubes will hold 800 samples as each tube will have five samples.”

Dr V Ravi, Senior Professor and Head, Neurovirology, Nimhans, and member of State Covid-19 Technical Advisory Committee, told DH, “Increased volume and decreased costs are the benefits of pooled testing. Cost is reduced while doing RNA extraction.”

Koppal has so far done 75,235 RT PCR tests. It’s weekly test positivity rate (TPR) is 3.7%. Vikas Kishor Suralkar, deputy commissioner, Koppal told DH, “We have been pooling samples even when our TPR was more than 5%. But I agree that the likelihood of a positive pool is less when the TPR is less than 5%. Even if some pools should come positive and we have to test all five samples individually again, one extra test doesn’t increase the cost much. But avoiding five individual tests, when a pool comes negative,  greatly reduces the cost.”
 

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News Network
November 26,2020

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Dubai, Nov 26: His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, has pardoned 472 prisoners on the occasion of the 49th UAE National Day.

The prisoners belong to several nationalities, state news agency WAM added.

Earlier this week, the UAE President, His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, had ordered the release of 628 prisoners.

Rulers of Umm Al Quwain and Ajman have also announced pardons.

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News Network
November 28,2020

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Bengaluru, Nov 28: Karnataka Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa’s relative and personal assistant N.R. Santhosh allegedly attempts to commit suicide on Friday evening.

Santhosh, 32-year-old and resident of Dollar’s Colony Bengaluru.

Speaking to reporters, the Chief Minister said, “Doctors stated that he is responding to the medications. He is still not out of danger completely. We are hoping for the best.”

A senior staff member of the CM office said on the condition of anonymity that Santhosh was upset over family issues and reportedly swallowed about a dozen sleeping pills with an intention of committing suicide. “Reason for this action was clearly not yet known and the police are yet to register the case,” the officer added.

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News Network
November 25,2020

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Bengaluru, Nov 25: Karnataka Animal Husbandry Minister Prabhu Chauhan said on Tuesday that a law to ban cow slaughter, sale and consumption of beef would be tabled in the forthcoming Assembly session starting December 7.

Speaking to reporters, Chauhan said that the department has been consulting with the experts from various fields besides studying similar laws enacted by other states. “I can assure that our law will be harsher than all the other states which have enacted similar laws,” he said.

Chauhan added that he has held discussions with Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa in this regard and he too is happy with the progress.

Yediyurappa had assured at the BJP state executive committee meeting held in Mangaluru recently that his government is committed to enact stronger laws to ban cow slaughter as well as prevent forcible conversions (‘Love Jihad’).

He added that once the new law comes into force, selling and consuming cow meat and slaughtering of cows will be banned completely, along with transportation of cows to other states.

“Safeguarding cows is our priority. I am very happy that this law will be piloted by me in the Assembly,” he said.

In 2010, Yediyurappa in his first stint as Chief Minister had introduced the Karnataka Prevention of Slaughter and Preservation of Cattle Bill, 2010.

The legislation would have instituted a blanket ban on cow slaughter and consumption of beef. However, the bill did not get presidential assent and was withdrawn after the Congress returned to power in 2013.

Both the passage of the bill in 2010 and its withdrawal triggered protests by groups on the opposite spectrum of the debate on cow slaughter.

Karnataka already has the Karnataka Prevention of Cow Slaughter and Cattle Preservation Act, 1964, which permits slaughter of bulls, bullocks and buffalos that are over 12 years of age and are unfit for breeding and giving milk.

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