The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has stopped testing random samples to look for community transmission, Raman Gangakhedkar, scientist at ICMR said.

“We have given the indication to test all patients who have severe acute respiratory illness. Hence, random sampling & community surveillance is no longer needed,” Gangakhedkar said. “There are some sporadic cases where patients are not giving a history of exposure. But it is not significant enough to say that it is spreading. Unless it is significant enough to have an explanation, we should not overinterpret it.”

Gangakhedkar also said that India is testing at 30% of its total capacity. Until March 25, the ICMRhad been releasing data on testing twice a day. Over the last two days, the data have been released only once on March 25 morning.

At 20 samples per million population, India is testing fewer samples than other countries. Italy tests 6,524 samples per million, UK tests 1,714 and the US 1,916.

Of the 27,688 COVID-19 samples tested in India till 9 a.m on March 25, 2% (691) have turned out positive. Other countries such as the US (16%), UK (13%) and Italy (22%) are seeing a higher rate of positive tests.

(Compiled by Shreya Raman)