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Tackling Coronavirus: Why India May Be Failing The Test

The Indian government is taking all possible measures to contain and tackle the spread of novel coronavirus in the country. Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday said that authorities are working in sync to ensure that Covid-19 does not spread further in the country. “No stone is being left unturned to ensure people are healthy,” the prime minister had tweeted.

But many challenges face the country in its fight against the coronavirus outbreak.

Not enough tests

India needs more aggressive testing. As of Monday, authorities had tested barely 9,000 people despite having at least 300,000 kits. An order for one million reagents from Germany has been placed but to put them to use, the number of testing needs to go up. According to latest reports, South Korea has been able to conduct a large number of diagnostic tests at a fast pace – an average of over 20,000 tests in a day. The country has tested over 274,000 samples and is among the ones with the best testing ratio.

“I am quite concerned by the lack of adequate testing. India has the resources. If you don’t test, how would people know they have the disease? If people don’t know, then how will secondary infection be prevented?” asked Ramanan Laxminarayan, director of Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics & Policy.

Profiling community spread

While people with travel history to coronavirus hotspots or those who have been in close contact with an infected individual get mandatory screening, others are not screened on priority. The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare in its release on ‘Covid-19 testing strategy’ stated that not all individuals need to be screened for coronavirus.

According to the ministry, there has been no community transmission of Covid-19 in the country currently, therefore “all individuals need not be screened”.

“The disease is primarily reported in individuals with travel history to the affected countries or close contacts of positive cases,” the release read.

By looking for people or screening people who may have got infected weeks ago, and not the ones who are getting infected now, are we testing the right people? And with this approach, profiling the community transmission of the virus stands questionable.

No voluntary testing

Many people are still reluctant in coming up for voluntary testing. Voluntary testing can help in understanding the spread.

Exclusion of private hospitals

As per reports, the private sector provides close to 70 per cent of healthcare across the country. It is about time India plays to its strengths and brings the private healthcare sector on board in the fight against coronavirus. In case of South Korea it was found that as much as 90% of testing in the country has been done by private laboratories.-Hindustan Times

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