While Bihar's election results are scheduled to be declared today, the Health Ministry was asked about the reason behind the state's low coronavirus cases despite hundreds of people seen openly flouting safety rules in rallies, like not wearing masks or maintaining social distancing.
Only 12 per cent of Bihar's total tests have been RT-PCR and the state has been asked to conduct the more accurate RT-PCR tests of people who show symptomatic negatives of antigen tests, Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said today.
Bihar has 6,503 active coronavirus cases, while most states have twice the number of active cases. Bihar has 1,783 COVID-19 cases per million, which is three times lower than the national average of 6,225 cases per million people. The fatality rate of Bihar is 0.5 per cent, much better than the national average of 1.5 per cent.
RT-PCR tests are considered the gold standard as they are considered accurate. Antigen tests are, however, considered less reliable as they have lesser sensitivity and may give false negatives, where a person's test can come as negative when they could actually be positive.
"Bihar has done over one crore tests so far, 1,15,21,841 tests to be precise. 12 per cent of Bihar's total tests are RT-PCR, and the rest are antigen. 12,93,800 tests are RT-PCR. So one could argue that a large number of tests have been antigen tests," Mr Bhushan said.
"But we have asked Bihar, as we have advised other states, to take RT-PCR tests of all symptomatic negatives of antigen tests. Our central teams were also sent to Bihar. They found good practices, but certain things were lacking as well. Outside urban areas, maintaining hand hygiene, wearing masks and social distancing were les, so we asked Bihar to act on it. Corrective action was taken by the Bihar government based on our advice," Mr Bhushan said.
When Mr Bhushan was asked about the RT-PCR vs antigen ratio in the national scale, he said, "When it comes to tests done so far across India, 46 per cent has been RT-PCR tests, 49 per cent are antigen and 5 per cent tests are TrueNAT and CB-NAAT tests."
India has conducted over 11 crore coronavirus tests so far.