Arunachal to test all those who enter the state, doctors urge multiple test

[ Tongam Rina ]
ITANAGAR, May 8: Anybody that enters Arunachal Pradesh will have to go through Reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test for COVID-19, according to health department.
Whoever enters into Arunachal will be tested, says the Secretary health P. Parthiban while responding to a query from this daily.
The test will be carried out three days after being quarantined in government identified facilities and that the length of stay in the quarantine facility will depend on the time taken for the RT- PCR test result.
According to the revised standard operating procedure released on May 4 by the state for “asymptomatic travellers, who will be quarantined in their respective district quarantine facility, throat/nasopharyngeal sample will be collected after 3 days of their quarantine (from the time of entry to the state) for RT-PCR test. These samples should be collected and transported to the designated testing laboratories within 24 to 48 hours, maintaining proper SOP for sample collection and transportation”.
The SOP further mandates that if the “RT-PCR result is negative, such persons will be sent for Home Quarantine and shall stay for 14 days of home quarantine after signing an undertaking, which will be countersigned by the Magistrate on duty and a legal guardian as a witness”.
If the RT-PCR result is positive, such persons will be further managed in the Covid Care Center/dedicated Covid Health Center/dedicated Covid Hospital as per the severity of the case.
The government had earlier said all those who enter the state will have to undergo 14 days quarantine at identified facilities but this has since been modified.
Some doctors this daily spoke to said that more tests need to be carried out.
They say that incubation period varies and therefore, one time test is not enough. ‘At least three tests are required to completely rule out presence of virus citing the cases in India where people have been tested positive more than 30 days after their exposure to the virus, possibly from carriers of the virus who are asymptomatic,’ some doctors said while responding to queries if one test is enough.
Parthiban said that SOP was devised based on the recommendations of the experts. “State Health Task Force consists of 14 doctors and involves public health specialists from WHO and UNICEF. Based on their recommendation the SOP was devised.
We have a State Surveillance team of Epidemiologists,” he said.

Numbers of samples for testing increase

A record 204 samples were collected on Friday with 53 in capital region followed by 25 each in Lohit and Changlang. No samples have been collected from Kamle district so far.
Some of the testing is being done at Tomo Riba Institute of Health and Medical Sciences (TRIHMS).
“At present 50-60 samples are tested, which will improve to 100 plus in next few days”, the secretary said.
“We have provided enough human resources to run the laboratory in two shifts under the able and dynamic leadership of Microbiologist Dr. Mika Umpo, he said.
Responding to return of a result of sample tested, the secretary said that “normally with the travel time and testing time, results will be out by 24 hours”.
He further said that two technicians from Arunachal have been provided to Tezpur Medical Hospital, an Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) approved facility. Samples from Tawang, West Kameng and East Kameng are sent to Tezpur.
There were reports of shortage in viral transport media (VTM) kits used in collection, transport and storage of viral specimens but the health secretary said that the state has 13,000 VTM at present.
“We will be getting another 15,000 this week”, Parthiban said.
He further said TRUENAT will also be used subject to approval by the ICMR which is expected by Saturday.
He said that NHM Lab has three TRUENAT machines and each machine can test seven samples per day so the load on TRIHMS will lessen. “If a sample is tested positive in TRUENAT as per protocol of ICMR it still needs to undergo RT-PCR testing.
He says that once the approval is granted, 80 samples per day using RT-PCR and TRUENAT within Arunachal Pradesh would be tested from Monday.
Regarding use of CBNAAT which is available in some of the districts and recommended by health practitioners, he says that there are not enough microbiologist and lab technicians to use these machines.