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Karnataka move to test all those arrive a drain on resources

The nodal officer of the Covid-19 task force for Karnataka has advised the government to do away with the requirement of Covid-19 negative test reports for people arriving in the state, as the move is likely to add pressure on the state's testing and quarantine facilities.

, ET Bureau|
Last Updated: May 29, 2020, 07.48 AM IST
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Mumbai: The nodal officer of the Covid-19 task force for Karnataka has advised the government to do away with the requirement of Covid-19 negative test reports for people arriving in the state, as the move is likely to add pressure on the state's testing and quarantine facilities. In an interview to ET on Thursday, Dr V Ravi termed the move to ask for negative certificates as 'madness'.

Karnataka government on Thursday pitched for down scaling air travel from Maharashtra, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, MP and Rajasthan, saying a large number of people arriving from these states have tested positive and it would be difficult to manage quarantine if more arrived.

The government also said the existing restrictions on entry of people by road from Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Gujarat into Karnataka would continue until further orders. The government is likely to decide on allowing trains from these states once the services resume on June 1. The Karnataka government is insisting that incoming travellers should get a Covid-19 negative test certificate or they will be quarantined in an institutional facility for seven days. ET has learnt that the state government is expected to revise this requirement in the coming days based on the recommendation from its task force. No official clarifications have come about for waiving off this requirement for tests.

“The testing of people moving from one state to another is madness,” said Dr V Ravi, who is also head of department of neurovirology at the National Institute of Mental Health and Neuroscience (NIMHANS). "It is a wrong strategy to put every person coming to the state into institutional quarantine as this will add load to already stretched resources,” he said. Between May 22 and May 25 about 100,000 people came into Karnataka, as per the state government's estimates, and the state collected the same number of swabs for testing. The labs in the state have the capacity to test a maximum of 12,000 samples per day.

“Even if we have to test these 100,000 swabs it is going to take eight days and within that eight days another five-lakh people will come in,” Dr Ravi explained. He added by doing this many tests the state would have spent `20 crore while this money could be spent usefully for getting the state's health systems prepared for taking care of sick people.

JVR Prasad Rao, one of the members of ICMR Covid-19 national task force told ET that testing of people entering state should be based on certain criteria or confined to those who show symptoms. “States cannot be randomly making up their own rules. Epidemic is a Central government subject and they should follow the current protocols for testing,” Rao said. He is expecting the union health ministry to issue a clarification about the test certificate requirement.
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