BHUBANESWAR: The Odisha Government has directed all hospitals to not conduct Covid test of persons received dead at their facility in order to avoid delay in release of body. Health experts, however, are unhappy with the decision as they believe the public health will be compromised.
An order issued by the Health and Family Welfare department said the Covid-19 test after death is discouraged to avoid undue delay in release of body and prevent harassment to the bereaved family.
The order has left the health experts and virologists perplexed as it came on the day when Odisha recorded its biggest single day spike of 15 deaths due to Covid-19. Terming the order as a ploy to suppress the death toll, they said the Government could have facilitated early tests in such cases.
“The purpose of the test is to isolate people, who have been exposed to infection. By curtailing it in case of the deceased, the Government leaves the public health compromised. On one hand, there may be a relief from delay but on the other, health of family members is at risk,” pointed out a scientist associated with the ICMR.
He said the Government is trying to address the issue of rising deaths due to Covid. But is it the way? There has been under reporting of Covid deaths across the country. If people received dead will not be tested, how will we know their cause of death? Will not it lead to confusion and suspicion among the relatives, he wondered.
At a time when contact tracing is almost negligible and people are not even adhering to micro containment guidelines, health experts feared, such a decision may lead to a rise in the number of positive cases if people who came in contact with the deceased are not asked to isolate themselves.
Additional Chief Secretary of Health department PK Mohapatra said the ICMR guidelines do not mandate testing of bodies. “The Government has discouraged tests after death following complaints of harassment to relatives of deceased for post death Covid tests,” he clarified.
The department has also asked all hospitals treating Covid patients to submit death reports of the deceased along with the copy of the bed head tickets, investigation reports and Covid test status to the Director (Health Services) within 48 hours of death for the purpose of state-level death audit.
“The hospitals have been directed to record all the pre-existing diseases with signs and symptoms at the time of admission along with the related investigation reports accompanied by the name and contact number of the treating physician,” the order added.