BENGALURU: After coming under severe criticism for choosing not to test suspected deaths for Covid-19, where patients had symptoms of Severe Acute Respiratory Illness (SARI) and Influenza Like Illness (ILI), the state backtracked on its testing policy on Wednesday. The Health and Family Welfare Department issued a statement saying that Karnataka will continue to conduct Covid test for the deceased with a history of ILI or SARI symptoms and swab samples will be taken within six hours of death.
“If the test result returns positive for Covid, all close contacts will be categorised as primary contacts. The state is committed to test more and control the transmission of coronavirus,” the department said while issuing an order to this effect. The decision not to test the deceased with symptoms was taken two days ago, although the technical advisory committee had not recommended it. The government took a call after a video-conference with the central government and Union Health Ministry officials, who advised state officials not to take swabs of the dead patients with SARI and ILI symptoms.
There were no guidelines from the Indian Council of Medical Research ICMR too and Karnataka was testing the dead of its own volition till two days ago. In the last 10 days, there has been a spike in corona deaths, with some cases returning positive after the death. Experts said that testing the dead is important as actions that follow it, including contact tracing, testing and quarantining of the deceased’s contacts are crucial.
There have been 66 deaths in the state so far, of which 19 are from Bengaluru alone. The death audit committee has attributed late reporting by patients, lack of intimation from private hospitals about suspected cases to government authorities, age and comorbidities as the major causes for corona deaths in Karnataka.