With asymptomatic people getting tested for Covid-19 and then insisting on getting admitted to hospitals, the Delhi government is learnt to have conveyed to several private labs and hospitals to keep ICMR guidelines in mind while testing.
“Some letters have been sent to a few private labs since they were not following ICMR guidelines. A meeting regarding this was also held last week,” a government spokesperson told The Indian Express.
According to sources, the meeting was called by the Delhi government’s health department last week, and several private lab owners and representatives were asked about the nature of patients visiting the facilities.
People who attended the meeting told The Indian Express that officials highlighted how a large number of asymptomatic patients were getting admitted to private hospitals after testing positive, leaving patients who actually need care unattended and unnecessarily putting strain on the system. “We were advised to exercise caution while testing,” said a private lab owner.
It was also highlighted that data entries sent to ICMR show that several asymptomatic people have been tested.
As per guidelines issued by the ICMR on May 18, patient categories for testing are: symptomatic international traveller in last 14 days; symptomatic contact of lab confirmed case; symptomatic healthcare worker/frontline workers; hospitalised SARI (severe acute respiratory illness) patient; asymptomatic direct and high-risk contact of lab confirmed case — family member; asymptomatic healthcare worker in contact with confirmed case without adequate protection; symptomatic influenza like illness (ILI) in hospital; pregnant woman in/near labour; symptomatic (ILI) among returnees and migrants (within seven days of illness); and symptomatic ILI in hotspot/containment zones. There is also mention of a category called “others”.
Delhi is currently testing 11,180 people per million population, considerably higher than the national average of 2,838 tests per million. Delhi had conducted 223,607 tests as of Tuesday night.
During the meeting, some owners and representatives are learnt to have aired the opinion that more asymptomatic people should be tested. “The ICMR testing criterion ought to be expanded,” said the owner of one private lab. “In some cases, hospitals ask patients to get a Covid test done before certain procedures, including chemotherapy, dialysis and even dental treatment. And hotels that are set to open also want their kitchen staff tested.”
A private hospital representative, requesting anonymity, said: “The purpose of testing asymptomatic patients during hospital admission is to ensure Covid and non-Covid patients don’t mix.”