Tests for all symptomatic persons: Focus shifted from containment to mitigation amid rising COVID-19 cases
Until now, only people with influenza-like illnesses living in containment zones and other high-risk groups such as quarantine camps were eligible for COVID-19 tests.
With Covid-19 cases rising, the government seems to have quietly changed its focus from containment to mitigation in areas worst hit by the infectious disease such as Delhi.
Last week, the Indian Council of Medical Research had asked states to allow coronavirus testing for symptomatic persons in any part of the country.
“Since test, track and treat is the only way to prevent spread of infection and save lives, it is imperative that testing should be made widely available to all symptomatic individuals in every part of the country and contact tracing mechanisms for containment of infection are further strengthened,” the ICMR said in a paper called ‘Newer Additional Strategies for Covid-19 Testing’ on June 23.
Until now, only people with influenza-like illnesses living in containment zones and other high-risk groups such as quarantine camps were eligible for Covid-19 tests.
The shift in focus to mitigation has resulted in the government taking measures to ramp up the availability of hospital beds and Covid care centres.
This has been most evident in Delhi, where the Ministry of Home Affairs declared last week that 20,000 additional beds would soon be ready.
Many experts who believe that community transmission has already started, although the government is yet to accept this view, have argued for shifting the focus to mitigation rather than containment.
“While processes like testing and tracing will continue, the focus is shifting to minimising deaths through early case detection, triage and ensuring that adequate hospital facilities are available to manage the surge in cases,” said Sanjay Rai, professor of community medicine at AIIMS-Delhi, who is assisting the state government with its Covid response.
Another epidemiologist who is part of a team of experts helping the ICMR, said if ongoing serosurvey shows a high number of people have already been exposed to the virus, it would be wise to pay attention to managing patients.