A letter given to the Chief Secretary by the Kerala Government Medical Officers’ Association (KGMOA) pointing out that the augmented mass testing in the State without enhancing diagnostic facilities or human resources would be self defeating seems to have rubbed the government the wrong way.
The KGMOA, in its letter to the Chief Secretary, had pointed out that the augmented RT-PCR testing without adequate facilities was resulting in a delay of over several days for results to be made available. Even the results of the first round of mass testing was not fully out. Other than voluntary isolation, there was no way the health system could ensure that the person who underwent the COVID test did not mingle with others till the results were out. The delay in obtaining test results led to the dangerous situation of the tested individuals freely moving, spreading disease among the community.
The KGMOA suggested that considering these limitations, testing be limited to selected target groups, symptomatic persons and their primary contacts.
However, the Chief Minister and the Health Minister took exception to the statement by the KGMOA. Health Minister K.K. Shylaja reacted that mass testing to isolate as many infectious people as possible from the community was a scientific decision taken by the government and the expert committee.
She said that it had been the constant complaint against the government that the State was not doing adequate testing. Now that the government was going ahead with it, the KGMOA could not raise their inconveniences as an issue.
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan also criticised the KGMOA for the stand it had taken.
Delay in results
The KGMOA clarified that they were not against mass testing. However, they reiterated that doing mass RT-PCR tests without adequate facilities would be counter productive, as the delay in test results would defeat the very purpose of isolating the COVID-positive persons when they were in their most infectious phase.