ITANAGAR, May 2: The Indian Medical Association’s Arunachal chapter (IMA-AP) has sought rapid antibody tests for “all suspects who return back, and strict precautionary measures against truck drivers.”
In inputs it submitted to the chief minister, the chief secretary, the health secretary and the home commissioner on Thursday – a day before the Centre extended the lockdown – regarding post-lockdown strategies, the IMA-AP stressed on conducting compulsory rapid antibody tests on all people entering the state, based on laid down guidelines, “as it is the strongest surveillance tool.”
Informing that South Korean kits (Sd Biosensor) are already being used by some states for mass surveillance, it said that “the state government should take a call as it would need some mass screening devices when the stranded students come back to the state.”
It is to be noted that the ICMR has banned the use of two reagent companies only – Guangzhou Wondfo Biotech and Zhuhai Livzon Diagnostics – owing to wide variations in their sensitivity, but not the test itself.
Informing that viral transport media kits for reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction tests for Covid-19 are not available in large quantities, the IMA-AP suggested that the government think of other screening modalities.
The CBNAAT and Truenat machines cartridges used in the testing are also reportedly in limited supply.
The IMA-AP also observed that “the truckers carrying essential commodities pose the highest level of threat as Covid-19 carriers to our state, having travelled all red zone areas.”
It suggested using a dedicated team of data entry operators from the IT department to track the entry and exit of truckers, and to “consider providing portable GPS onto these trucks for active surveillance and tracking,” besides making it mandatory for all drivers and their helpers to undergo tests.
Other than seeking an extension of the lockdown, the IMA-AP said that the state government “can give relaxation on inter-district movement but with strict and vigilant interstate borders.”
“All forces should be deployed to guard our border check gates,” it said.
It also sought more stringent actions on all laid-down standard operating procedures at the check gates, and deployment of veterinary department officials at the check gates as trucks carrying livestock enter the state.
After assessing that the people are not keen and cooperative with regard to government-designated quarantine centres due to shortage of basic facilities and fear of being socially ostracized, the IMA-AP suggested “creating paid quarantines facilities,” but called for maintaining strict quarantine protocols at all quarantine centres.
It also suggested resuming all regular OPD and IPD services of government hospitals with restricted numbers of patients per day for all departments.
“To address the issue of social distancing at registration counters, all hospitals may be directed for telephonic registration and appointment only,” it said, adding that the doctors and other hospital staff may join their duties “maintaining 50 percent attendance to avoid crowds, and maintain social distance.”
It also advised focusing more on IEC activities and social distancing, personal hygiene and other preventive measures, “since we all have to live with this virus till we get a vaccine.”