Delhi LG Overrules CM, Says Asymptomatic Contacts Must Be Tested

This comes after the Delhi government restricted testing of suspected patients by excluding asymptomatic patients.

2 min read
This comes after the Delhi government restricted testing of suspected patients by excluding  asymptomatic patients.

In the latest order, Delhi Lt Governor Anil Baijal overturned the state government’s revised guidelines which had excluded asymptomatic contacts of confirmed cases from getting tested for COVID-19, and has asked for asymptomatic people to also be examined, according to news agency PTI.

This comes after the Delhi government had restricted testing of suspected patients by excluding all asymptomatic people except ‘direct and high-risk contacts with comorbidities (diabetes, hypertension, cancer patients) and senior citizens’ from getting tested, in an order issued on 2 June.

In response, the Delhi LG has ordered strict compliance with the ICMR guidelines, saying testing must be for all nine categories, including all asymptomatic contacts of COVID-19 cases, PTI tweeted.

As FIT had earlier reported, experts and medical practitioners were extremely critical of the decision, calling it potentially ‘disastrous’.

Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, in a digital address on 6 June, had expressed that the government’s priority was aimed at saving lives. “If out of panic, every asymptomatic person keeps rushing to get tested, our system will collapse. We have sufficient labs and infrastructure, but if 1,000 people walk in for testing daily, our system won’t be able to handle and more serious patients would be denied the care they need. Asymptomatic and mild patients will be fine, but symptomatic people need treatment. It must be known that Delhi’s testing number is one of the highest in the country.”

However, considering the fact that almost 80% of all COVID-19 cases are asymptomatic and mild, excluding them could have severely underreported the total cases; thereby impacting the containment and response strategy, and leading to a spiralling of transmission of the infection.

Dr Vikas Maurya, Director & Head, Dept. of Pulmonology & Sleep Disorders at Fortis Hospital, Shalimar Bagh, had told FIT, “If we don’t test asymptomatic people, what happens to contact tracing? It needs to be mandated that even if they can’t be tested, asymptomatic contacts of positive patients must be traced and isolated. There needs to be such a supplementary policy to make sure they don’t become spreaders. They must be quarantined and isolated, and if they do end up developing symptoms, we can go ahead and test them.”

This could also severely impact non-COVID health services since many hospitals require a COVID negative test before operating; considering that research has found a higher mortality risk of surgeries among positive patients.

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