There has been a decline in the number of covid-19 infections in most areas but some are still witnessing a rise in active cases in Jammu and Kashmir, according to an official statement released here.
While there have been right calls from the government for remaining vigilant and cautious, some activities are being allowed to open more instantaneously while the number of tests are going down, especially Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR).
This test actually detects RNA (or genetic material) that is specific to the virus and can detect the virus within days of infection, even those who have no symptoms.
Director Health Services Kashmir in a statement said that all the Districts are performing “less number” of RT-PCR tests than what has been stipulated by the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Government of India in the guidelines issued from time to time.
While it is true that the Indian Council of Medical Research, in its testing guideline issued on May 4, talked about reducing RT-PCR tests to take the load off the existing laboratories then but it never asked the governments to stop the gold standard tests altogether.
According to ICMR, individuals with symptoms identified negative by rapid antigen testing should be linked with the RT-PCR test facility.
Those who test negative for COVID-19 by rapid antigen test are to be definitely tested sequentially by RT-PCR to rule out infection, whereas a positive test should be considered as a true positive and does not need reconfirmation by RT-PCR test.
There is a need to increase the test for the detection of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19 and to achieve it all the concerned need to put act together.
Also private laboratories need to be taken onboard in ensuring more tests are done as there is reluctance on their part to carry out the tests after the government capped the price to Rs 400 including cost involved in pickup, packing and transportation of samples, documentation and reporting in Jammu and Kashmir.
The importance of conducting more RT-PCR tests becomes all more relevant in view of the spread of the new variants of the coronavirus.
There is also a need to follow WHO provided guidelines to prevent the spread and as such crowded places, close-contact settings and confined and enclosed spaces should be avoided. The intersection of these is the most dangerous, and some relaxations given by administration fall within this red zone. As has been rightly pointed out by the Lieutenant Governor, cases are down but one cannot relax yet.