Wednesday, April 21

Covid-19: Should Uttarakhand be conducting more tests


The health authorities in Uttarakhand, which has a population of over 1 crore, have tested just 590 people from across the state for Covid-19 till March 31, while around 9,650 people have been put on quarantine in the past month.
With seven positive cases till now, the health department is busy patting its back saying that the pandemic is still in Stage I, but experts feel that the actual number of cases may be higher if the government starts testing people in high-risk areas such as borders and villages in hills where large amount of reverse migration has been witnessed.
According to minister in-charge of Pauri, Harak Singh Rawat, the district alone has reported 9,681 people returning to villages from cities such as Mumbai, Delhi and Pune in the past 10 days. In Uttarkashi, in the month of March, over 3,370 people came back to their villages in wake of Covid-19 scare. The screening in the district is still going and the authorities feel that the number might touch 5,000.
Mussoorie-based doctor, Dr Sunil Sanon, who is currently in the US, which is witnessing the maximum brunt of the epidemic, told TOI that Uttarakhand’s numbers may just be the tip of the iceberg.
“Ghar Wapsi (Homecoming) of the men of the hills working outside the state may cost dear to the health authorities who are neglecting this large influx of people returning to their homes after the lockdown. Many of them returned to their homes as early as in the first week of March and managed to reach the hills unchecked.It is important that they are identified and checked as soon as possible,” he said.
Health personnel meanwhile say that the onus of tracking people is on the local intelligence unit and government agencies.
Speaking on the issue on the condition of anonymity, a government hospital doctor said, “Doctors won’t go door-to-door to track people. It’s the job of the administration and police. We can test people and we will do so if someone shows symptoms.”
DG health Dr Amita Upreti meanwhile said that efforts are being undertaken to track suspected people based on inputs received.
“In the latest incident, an advisory has been issued to the district magistrates across the state to identify the followers of Tablighi Jamaat who took park in events in Nizamuddin from March 1 to 15,” she said.
She added, “We have also set up one more lab for testing of Covid-19 cases and we expect that this would speedup the testing. We are already testing at Susheela Tiwari Medical College and AIIMS Rishikesh.”