COVID-19 | Delayed testing led to sudden spike in cases

Primary contacts were not tested immediately after diagnosis of coronavirus-positive patients

The death of a female COVID-19 patient due to delay in testing has made the State government go back on its decision of not testing all primary contacts of coronavirus patients.

She was the wife of a COVID-19 patient from P&T Colony, Dilsukhnagar, who contracted the infection from the dialysis unit of a corporate hospital. She was not tested initially even as her husband turned positive.

She eventually got sick and died of the infection, after which authorities tested the family members — all 10 tested positive for the virus. Incidentally, a famous film artiste-turned-politician’s son was also among those infected from this family.

This is just one sample case of delayed testing. In fact, what appeared as an unexpected spurt in the number of COVID-19 cases in the GHMC area on Monday, was not all that unexpected for the health authorities. For, their earlier decision to refrain from testing primary contacts without symptoms was the reason behind the sudden spike.

A majority of the 79 positive cases detected on Monday pertained to delayed testing of primary contacts.

For reasons best known to the State government, primary contacts had not been tested immediately after diagnosis of the index cases. Areas such as Saroornagar, Kapra, Jiyaguda, and Secunderabad contributed mainly to the positive cases on Monday, and all of them were primary contacts of the already diagnosed patients.

For instance, in Jiyaguda, 27 persons tested positive in a single day on Monday, and all of them were family members of the existing patients.

Officials under the condition of anonymity said there was a delay of 10 to 20 days in testing primary contacts of all the infected persons, who did not show any COVID symptoms. Primary contacts are immediate family members, and friends who stay in regular contact with the infected persons. “Probably, as the localities were already declared containment zones, a relaxed approach was assumed with regard to testing the primary contacts. After some delay, they were all tested at once, resulting in the spike in numbers on Monday,” an official shared.

Testing of primary contacts was reportedly delayed in all cases of dialysis patients getting infected from various colonies of Saroornagar and Kapra. A total of 10 patients who were going for dialysis at two corporate hospitals tested positive, but their primary contacts without symptoms were not tested immediately. When they finally were, 30 of them turned positive.

Six persons who tested positive from Secunderabad too were primary contacts from four households, officials informed. “The government seems to have initially baulked from testing persons without symptoms, thinking of it as a wastage of scarce resources. But later they have woken up to the reality and decided to test all primary contacts,” an official said. Another government source attributed the decision to paucity of medical infrastructure and staff.

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Printable version | May 26, 2020 10:04:52 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Hyderabad/covid-19-delayed-testing-led-to-sudden-spike-in-cases/article31568242.ece

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