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The Covid-19 crisis is wreaking havoc in Delhi as cases continue to pile up, yet the government has somehow pulled the brakes on testing with asymptomatic people being denied testing and six private labs and hospitals being restrained from conducting Covid-19 tests.

As per the experts, the workload has swelled and it is difficult to mitigate the demand for testing, especially in the backdrop where the number of positive cases continues to explode in the national capital.

Patna: A shopkeeper waits for customers during the extended nationwide lockdown imposed to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 pandemic, in Patna on Apr 15, 2020. (Photo: IANS) by .
A shopkeeper waits for customers during the extended nationwide lockdown imposed to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 pandemic (Photo: IANS)

Speaking to IANS, R.N. Tandon, former Secretary-General, Indian Medical Association (IMA), said, “The workload has increased in Delhi. It seems they are not able to test, as there is a waiting time of five days before samples are tested, which creates a backlog. The number of testing is not being done as it should have been. Testing asymptomatic people will further burden the testing infrastructure.”

He added: “Only few testing kits are being made in the country, rest we have to import. If the infrastructure is burdened by testing asymptomatic and people having mild symptoms, then what will happen to people with severe symptoms?… If people have mild symptoms, then they should take precautions and quarantine themselves … this is not a problem the government can handle alone,” added Tandon.

The Delhi government believes that investing in testing resources for asymptomatic and low-risk individuals would eventually become a roadblock for people having severe symptoms.

Testing less cannot become a productive strategy to keep the number under control, as asymptomatic people will continue to spread the virus in the society, while the test positivity rate has shot up drastically in the past week.

A senior citizen, a resident of Defence Colony, said on the condition of anonymity that a person in his family was found positive for coronavirus, yet private labs refused to test him and other people in the family saying they do not test asymptomatic persons.

Chennai: The Tamil Nadu Government received 24,000 COVID-19 rapid test kits out of an order of 1.25 lakh placed with a Chinese company, in Chennai on Apr 18, 2020. (Photo: IANS) by .
Chennai: The Tamil Nadu Government received 24,000 COVID-19 rapid test kits out of an order of 1.25 lakh placed with a Chinese company, in Chennai on Apr 18, 2020. (Photo: IANS)

“It is our right to get tested. How can the Delhi government deny our rights? This is not acceptable. Where would I get myself tested,” asked the senior citizen.

According to a senior Delhi government official, testing people with mild symptoms does not result in any decrease in the overall positivity rates.

Arvind Kumar, Chairman, Centre for Chest Surgery, and Director at the Institute of Robotic Surgery at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, said that Delhi government is trying to close testing when the number of positive cases is exploding in the capital.

“The government should be testing in every corner and every lab in the city, otherwise Delhi is heading for a disaster. Test everybody. Isolate and quarantine the positive cases for 14 days. It is only a question of political will to test everybody,” said Kumar.

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