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    COVID cases surge; experts discuss testing, challenges ahead

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    COVID cases surge; experts discuss testing, challenges ahead

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    Omicron cases have been surging. Amid widespread fear of the new variant, curbs have been implemented in various states to tackle the rising number of COVID cases. To understand the on-ground reality of the situation, CNBC-TV18 spoke to Ameera Shah, Promoter & MD, Metropolis Healthcare, and Sushant Kinra, COO, Suburban Diagnostics.

    Omicron cases have been surging. Amid widespread fear of the new variant, curbs have been implemented in various states to tackle the rising number of COVID cases. To understand the on-ground reality of the situation, CNBC-TV18 spoke to Ameera Shah, Promoter & MD, Metropolis Healthcare, and Sushant Kinra, COO, Suburban Diagnostics.
    First up, Shah mentioned that she has seen an increase of 20-30 percent in volumes vis-a-vis a month ago. Shah noted that revenue will, however, not be at the same pace as volumes.
    She said, "We are seeing at least sort of a 20-30 percent increase in volumes than what it was a month ago, so definitely we can see the increase. A month ago, we mostly saw it happening because of travel. Now, I think a lot of it is linked to infection."
    “In terms of revenue, of course, revenue will not move up at the same pace as volumes, because there are significant price cuts. But I think overall, non-COVID will get affected,” Shah said.
    She believes caps on RT-PCR don't justify genome testing. According to her, genome testing is for surveillance.
    She explained, “Unfortunately, the kit prices for those tests are significantly higher and the caps that are put on the pricing for RT-PCR don't justify for those tests to be done. Therefore, you only need to do that for the ones which come positive. Genomic testing is done mostly as a surveillance not for individuals to know whether it is Omicron or Delta.”
    Meanwhile, Kinra also reiterated the surge in COVID cases. He said that he noticed a surge in testing in the past 4-5 days. He explained that the positivity rate has risen. Kinra is of the opinion that there could be some challenges ahead.
    He said, “We can definitely see a huge spike in the past 4-5 days. Positivity percentage in the sample, which we see when the report is positive was around 4 percent on December 26th of last year, and today, we are reaching around 35 to 36 percent so that clearly shows an indication of the wave three spike.”
    He added, “I am not saying that we are perfect because the acceleration is really fast. So far I would say that it is in control from a management perspective, but looking at the speed, we are of course looking towards making sure that we are better off in the next week. But I see some challenges ahead in terms of the volumes; it will go up.”
    Kinra believes that no company will be able to match up to such a steep rise in volumes.
    “I think no company in the world will be able to manage such a steep rise in the volume as compared to what you expect. So obviously, it will put pressure.”
    However, Kinra is hopeful of the wave dying down as fast as it has risen.
    “We expect this wave to be the way it has gone up, that is it will come down really steep also. I think this is what you have seen in South Africa as well."
    Watch the accompanying video for the full interview
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