Karnataka Corona Update: Lack of kits forces govt to drop 1st round of tests on returnees | Bengaluru News – Times of India

BENGALURU: The state government which has taken thousands of people returning from other states to institutional quarantines much against their wishes has now gone back on its decision to test them for Covid-19 on arrival. The reason: lack of testing kits.
“The health and family welfare department had plans to conduct two rounds of testing on them: one on arrival and again on the 12th day. But now, the tests will be conducted only on the 12th day,” said M Lokesh, a BBMP special commissioner incharge of surveillance.
“Only one test will be conducted citing that it’s unnecessary. But in reality, there are no testing kits,” a health official told TOI.
The plan is to test only pregnant/lactating women, infants, people above the age of 60 and those with co-morbid conditions on arrival.
“Swab testing is free for those in institutional quarantine. The government does not want to spend money on these passengers,” a senior bureaucrat admitted.
However, the health officials said there are enough kits. “We’re procuring kits as and when required. The Karnataka drug and logistics department is supplying them and it hasn’t complained of any shortage till date,” said an official.
The testing mode for those in institutional quarantine will also change. “We’ll conduct pool-sample testing for them. Testing every individual could be a logistical nightmare,” he said.
In pool-sample testing, samples of five individuals will be tested in one go. If the test is positive, it’ll be repeated for each one separately. If it’s negative, all five will be considered not infected.
Meanwhile, those quarantined in hotels alleged that no medical officer visited them or checked them.
Pulvindar Kaur, who came from Secunderabad on Thursday, said it’s been five days since she arrived in the hotel, but no check-up was done. “The day we came to Bengaluru, they checked our temperature and forced us to go to hotels. After that, nobody has called us or done any test,” Kaur said.
“If they are not interested in our health, let us go home. They do not conduct tests, yet are forcing us to stay in hotels only to drill big holes in our pockets,” another passenger said.
Asked why the testing was limited to only these categories while the rest were being forced to stay under institutional quarantine, a health official said: “These people are travelling from other states, where the cases are high and they could be potential asymptomatic carriers of the virus. Taking chances isn’t advisable.”

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Sagar Biswas

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