‘COVID deaths due to late detection’

Ramp up testing to curb crisis situations, says senior official

April 23, 2021 12:01 am | Updated 12:01 am IST - HYDERABAD

Senior Central government officer Krishnamoorthy (name changed) has been pretty active throughout the pandemic touring the national capital and various cities and villages of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh but has been infected in this current nationwide second wave.

“I always took utmost precautions and was never without a mask in public but despite my best efforts, I got the virus. My symptoms are mild and am in home quarantine but my complaint is about inadequate testing facilities and the long time it takes to get the results, which I feel is causing more hospitalisations,” he says.

The senior official, who also held key posts in the twin cities, wanted to get himself tested in a private laboratory after he realised the mild fever was refusing to go. “I went to a diagnostic centre where I was informed that while the test could be done soon, the results can be expected in 72 hours only,” he explains.

His question is — What should the probable COVID positive patient do in the meanwhile? “Isn’t there a danger of the virus spreading further in the body during this time with delayed medical assistance because of the late test result information?,” he wonders. The officer managed to take the RT-PCR test and obtain the result in less than 24 hours making use of contacts in a private hospital, following which he began the treatment protocols immediately through online consultation of a private doctor.

“Deaths are happening not because of COVID infection but due to late detection of the disease and treatment. If we can ramp up the RT-PCR testing facilities, ensure results in shortest possible time and begin medication as per doctors’ advice, online or mobile too, we can not only save lives but prevent the rush to hospitals in critical stages. If private labs have managed to enhance their capabilities in the last one year, what prevents the government to scale them up?,” he asks.

The official is of the opinion that more people are voluntarily coming forward for testing this year. So, the health department on its own or on a public-private partnership should open more testing centres and provide quicker results to cut the serpentine queues in government healthcare facilities.

(Readers can share their own experiences or suggest healthcare improvements on our Twitter handle @THHyderabad or mail them to hyderabaddesk@thehindu.co. Space permitting, a few may be carried in print edition too)

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