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An 85% Failure of PCR Swab Testing in Bali

Medical experts link the low level of detection of COVID-19 cases in Bali to the current surge in new cases.

As reported by RadarBali, the recommendations of the World Health Association (WHO) for an ideal level of PCR Swab (Polymerase chain reaction) testing is 1,000 tests for every one million population per day.

Based on WHO targeted testing levels, Bali, with a population of 4.38 million, should be undertaking 4,380 PCR tests per day. Meanwhile, the Head of the Provincial Health Office in Bali, Dr. Ketut Suarjaya, has shared data with RadarBali indicating Bali tested an average of 42 PCR samples per day in March 2020; 92 PCR samples per day in April 2020; 262 PCR samples per day in May; 634 PCR samples per day in June; 844 PCR samples per day in July; and decreasing to 660 PCR samples per day in August.

Most recently, the average number of PCR Swab Tests performed each day from September 1-7 was 666.

Using WHO-recommended PCR testing standards as a benchmark, Bali falls far below the benchmark recommendation of 4,380 PCR Swab Tests per day.

Using WHO-recommended PCR testing standards as a benchmark, Bali falls far below the benchmark recommendation of 4,380 PCR Swab Tests per day.

The data supplied by Bali’s Provincial Department of Health on the number of PCR Swab Tests performed does not reflect the actual number of “new” tests undertaken as the local data also includes “retesting” to confirm earlier positive test results or testing to ensure a patient has fully recovered from the illness.

The averages stated above would be even lower if they were corrected to remove “repeat” testing.

Setting to the side for the moment the level of “repeat testing” and using the average of 666 PCR Swab Tests conducted in the first days of September 2020, Bali is, in any case, falling far short of the WHO recommended test level of 4,380 PCR tests per day – achieving a number that is only 15% of the suggested “ideal.”

Against this background of Bali testing levels, the months of August and September saw a dramatic increase of new “positive” COVID-19 infection rates in Bali and a tragic leap in fatalities. 

Incongruously, the number of PCR Swab Tests performed in Bali in August and September decreased in terms of a daily average when compared to July.

Experts are universally linking a lack of testing to a failure to identify and treat those suffering from COVID-19, resulting in increased disease transmission levels. Accordingly, a leading epidemiologist from Bali’s Udayana University, Dr. I Made Ady Wirawan, is blaming what he describes as an “uncontrolled” increase in new cases of COVID-19 in Bali and the low level of PCR Swab testing by the Government.

Dr. I Made Ady Wirawan, Udayana University

Dr. Ady Wirawan is again calling on the Government to undertake mass levels of PCR Swab Testing to break the escalating chain of new infections and deaths.

“Increase the testing capacity, this can be done with combined Rapid Testing for the virus’ antigen, and test all those who have come into close contact of infected patients so people can be isolated and the infection chain can be broken,” said Dr. Wirawan.

Dr. Ketut Suarjaya, Head of Bali’s Health Department

Meanwhile, the Provincial Health Officer for Bali, Dr. Ketut Suarjaya, defended the PCR Swab Testing carried out in Bali. He insists that it is being done following WHO guidelines inasmuch as tracing is undertaken whenever someone is determined to be infected with COVID-19. “We take samples based on (WHO) guidelines,” said Dr. Suarjaya.

Be that as it may, levels of testing to detect COVID-19 cases in Bali falls a full 85% below the WHO’s recommended testing levels.

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