The Centre on Thursday denied the claim that enough testing for Covid-19 infection was not being done, saying not everyone is vulnerable to the coronavirus, even as the number of positive cases reached 12,759 with 420 deaths. Out of these, 826 cases and 28 deaths were reported in the last 24 hours.

Earlier in the day, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi had urged the government to test “aggressively and strategically”. Gandhi said that India’s testing rate was 199 out of a million. All tests that we have done in last 72 days works out to an average of approximately 350 tests per district, he said.

When asked whether these figures were abysmally low, the Indian Council of Medical Research claimed that even though 23 out of 24 tests done were yielding a negative result in India, the government continues to test people at that scale.

“India has had to test 24 people to get each patient on an average. In Japan, 1 out of 11.7 tests turn out to be positive, which is among the highest in the world. In Italy one in 6.7 tests done, is positive, while in the United States its 5.3 and 3.4 in the United Kingdom,” Dr R Gangakhedkar of ICMR said. “This means tests of 23 out of 24 people are coming negative, but we’re still doing it,” he added. “India has a huge population and not everyone is vulnerable.”

“Our effort is not to miss out on any positive case,” joint secretary Lav Agarwal said. “When we tested 24 symptomatic people, we get one positive case. This is a clear indication that because of the advanced action taken by the government, we have been able to contain the outbreak to some extent,” he added. “It is not about the absolute number of testing, but about how our containment measures together with testing, is giving us outputs. We want to ensure that everyone is tested, as per properly laid down testing criteria.”

India has conducted 2,90,401 Covid-19 tests so far, Gangakhedkar said. Out of these, 30,043 were tested on Wednesday, among which 26,331 were done in laboratories under ICMR network and 3,712 in private labs, he added.

The medical body also announced that India has received its order of five lakh rapid Covid-19 testing kits from China on Thursday. Gangakhedkar, however, said these testing kits will be used for surveillance and to monitor whether coronavirus hotspots in the country are increasing or decreasing.

The health ministry said 1,489 people have recovered from Covid-19 and 325 districts in India have not reported any Covid-19 cases. Some of these districts are Patna, Nadia, Pratapgarh, Porbandar, South Goa, Pauri Garhwal, Pilibhit, Rajauri, Bilaspur, Durg and Rajnandgaon. Mahe in Puducherry has not reported a single Covid-19 cases in 28 days, Agarwal said.