Through the columns of your esteemed daily, I would like to highlight the current Covid-19 testing scenario, it’s validity, and the potential problems that it could generate.
Sooner or later, everyone will hopefully realize that the more the number of tests, the more the number of positive cases. If we start admitting every person who tests positive, our CCCs and hospitals will be quickly overwhelmed, and the ones supposed to get actual medical care and treatment will be deprived of it.
It’s high time we stopped relying on ‘aaj ki sansani khabar’ news channels and instead research and analyze why people are dying. If sources are to be believed, it is mainly because of not getting proper treatment on right time (comorbid cases), fear and social stigma, ill-equipped hospitals, non-Covid hospitals not admitting Covid patients, and experimental drug administration.
Thankfully, our state government is performing better than most, taking full responsibility, from testing to quarantine to isolation. However, once the number of positive cases reaches 10-15 thousand, it will not be feasible for the government to look after everyone but the most severe of cases.
The ones who are demanding random tests through rapid antigen or rapid antibody tests may kindly visit the WHO website and go through the Covid-19 dashboard. The WHO does not till date recommend either of the abovementioned tests because of their non-specificity and lesser sensitivity. The only test that the WHO recommends is RT-PCR, which itself is a very sophisticated test and even then, the sensitivity is not 100 percent and thus, even a minor mistake in collection, testing or processing of sample will not give an accurate result.
The ICMR also recommends compulsory RT-PCR testing for those who test negative in the antigen or antibody test, which proves how unreliable the two previously mentioned tests are. Random testing will increase the number of samples, which in turn will hamper the true evaluation of the situation. This fanaticism with testing has to be stopped. It will only increase the burden on the health workers, the government and all other front-liners.
Also, if we believe in the list of fomites and the half life of virus on their surfaces, no amount of vehicle sanitization or lockdown can stop this virus from entering our state.
Let us stop panicking unnecessarily. Please try and see what the Delhi government is doing. They have gone through the worst and they have a good understanding of the situation. While it is of no use putting everyone in hospitals, and instead, those who come with severe symptoms and co-morbidity should be provided extra care, facilities and the best possible treatment, considering the fact that there is a large number of patients with other ailments who need more medical attention than an influenza like illness.
Please keep in mind that Arunachal has a staggeringly outnumbering 1:2417 doctor to patient ratio (NHP 2018). Therefore, the public needs to put faith in the efforts the government is putting to combat the pandemic, instead of making ill-informed demands and judgments.
After all, everyone needs to work hand in hand… for the greater good.