Tamil Nadu

Govt. labs to now alert residents irrespective of result

The absence of information when a person tested negative was leading to anxiety, said an official.

The absence of information when a person tested negative was leading to anxiety, said an official.  

So far, only those testing positive for COVID-19 were informed of the outcome

The State government on Wednesday decided to send results of COVID-19 tests, by SMS, to those getting tested at government institutions. In a departure from the current practice, those testing negative, too, will now be informed of their results.

Hitherto, only those testing positive for COVID-19 were alerted and those testing negative were left to assume their results.

In a meeting chaired by Chief Secretary K. Shanmugam, and attended by IAS and IPS officers in-charge of anti-COVID-19 efforts in the Greater Chennai Corporation limits at the Secretariat on Thursday, it was decided that SMS would be sent to all those getting tested. A senior official told The Hindu: “We realised that the absence of information when a person tested negative was leading to anxiety and people had to assume that their results were negative. Clear information will help them stay clear of doubts.”

So far, only those getting tested in private labs were sent detailed reports of their results, he said. “We have already started sending SMS from Wednesday evening,” he said.

Though the State capital has been reporting a lesser number of cases in the last few days, the Chief Secretary has instructed officials against complacency. Another senior official, who was part of the meeting, said that the Chief Secretary had instructed officials not to be complacent after seeing the drop in cases.

“Now that the complete lockdown has been lifted, we have to be vigilant to ensure house surveillance, early detection of symptoms through daily house-to-house visits, holding of fever camps and to make sure that intensive testing continues. The Chief Secretary also emphasised the need for immediate quarantining after getting a test done to stop the spread of COVID-19. Contact tracing is to be strengthened further,” a senior official said.

The State government has also decided to form teams to monitor public behaviour in Chennai, where the complete lockdown was lifted on Monday. “What we are reaping now [low cases] are the fruits of the lockdown. The unlock should not undo the efforts we took, and therefore, we want to monitor public behaviour with these teams. The teams will monitor public places, and if need be, will get the police to the area to control crowds in places, especially like the Ritchie Street,” the official said.

For Chennai, fever camps, testing of over 10,000 samples, containment management, daily analysis of cases, swift action in newly-affected streets and efficient contact tracing were among the strategies planned and reviewed. Zones 9, 10 and 14 will come under additional focus due to their high caseloads. “Private labs’ unutilised testing capacities will be fully used to speed up results,” he added.

Since the focus has now shifted to the southern districts, the State government has instructed officials to increase testing in these areas.

“The thumb rule is to test 10 times the number of cases from the previous day. So, Madurai tested about 3,000 samples today and other districts will follow,” he added. The Chief Secretary will review the COVID-19 scenario in Madurai, Chengalpattu, Kancheepuram and Tiruvallur districts on Thursday.

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Printable version | Aug 4, 2020 11:25:32 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/govt-labs-to-now-alert-residents-irrespective-of-result/article32025893.ece

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