Bengaluru: In a May 20, 2020 press release on “how India ramped up COVID-19 testing capacity”, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has claimed that India’s journey to becoming “fully self-reliant in its testing capabilities” has been “one about the steely resolve of multiple agencies”. It had “reached a landmark in its fight against COVID-19 by performing 100,000 tests in one day” on May 18, 2020, it said. Since then it has been reporting more than 100,000 tests every day, and reported 103,532 tests on May 21, 2020 (in the 24 hours until 9 a.m. that day).

While India may have ramped up testing from “less than 100 tests per day just two months ago, a 1,000 fold increase in just 60 days”, India conducted 193 tests per 100,000, the lowest rate among the 11 worst affected countries in the world. The US, which has the most cases, has conducted 3,739 tests per 100,000 and Italy 5,251 per 100,00.

In all, India has tested 2.6 million samples so far.

By March 16, 2020, when the World Health Organization had asked countries to “test, test, test”, India had conducted 9,100 tests or one test per 100,000 population.

India has now reported 112,359 COVID-19 cases, as per the health ministry's update on May 21, 2020. A day after reporting more than 100,000 cases on May 19, 2020, the country reported its highest single-day spike in cases at 5,611. Today, India reported its second highest single-day increase, at 5,609.

Despite an increase in cases and the lower numbers of tests, India has the lowest number of cases per 100,000 people (7.9) among the 11 most affected countries, claimed the health ministry on May 20, 2020, in the first press conference it conducted in eight days along with the ICMR.

(Paliath is an analyst with IndiaSpend. Jameela Ahmed has created the chart for this story.)