State government effort for fighting the Covid-19 pandemic is crystal clear. It was indeed disheartening to learn that the worried Chief Minister N. Biren Singh even went to the Govindaji Temple and pray for the safety of the people. He had tried every means as per the advice of the concerned state government experts, but there seems no dearth to the rise of the Covid-19 infected people. Maybe the chief Minister is desperate and helpless as he now seems to have left to the wish of the almighty.
Lockdown or curfew didn’t help in containing the virus, despite woes of the public over not getting food, people succumbed to Covid had remained 2 digit figure and the positive cases could not climb down from the 3 digit figure. Now, the recent step taken up by the N. Biren Singh government, after his government fails to speed up the Covid vaccination programme is mass testing. Criteria or the methodology of the mass testing has not been let known to the public and there seems no such public health methodology approved for such mass vaccination. Even if the mass testing is confined for those lockdown or curfew violators, the system being used is nothing but a waste of RAT testing vials and manpower. This is being stated as there are possibilities of letting free to people who were tested negative with the SARS-COV-2 while tested with Rapid Antigen Test (RAT).
Head, Department of Biotechnology of the Manipur University, Prof. Lisam Shanjukumar Singh in his article published in this newspaper yesterday under the heading “Mass Testing for SARS-COV-2 and Prevention of Next wave” had stated, “ It’s a well-known fact that RAT can give a high number of false negatives because of the low accuracy of the test. A few months back (16th September 2020), the Delhi High Court pulled up the Delhi Government for choosing Rapid Antigen Testing (RAT), as the primary test of COVID-19 infection over RT-PCR (Reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction) which is considered as the gold standard for testing as it gives nearly 100% accuracy.”
As of now, the state government Health department authority hasn’t spelled out the methodology of the mass testing being announced by the Chief Minister, who is also in charge of the Health Department.
Mass testing has been conducted T Luxembourg and Slovakia and most of the people have been tested.
Austria plans to introduce mass testing for COVID-19. While mass testing makes sense, feasibility remains an issue. Neither Luxembourg, with its population of about 630,000, nor Slovakia with its 5.5 million inhabitants can serve as a blueprint for larger nations like Germany — a country with 83 million people.
In a state like Manipur, which has less resources and had faced multiple problems in the fetching of equipment, PPE kits, Vaccines, Hospitals, etc. with a population of around 30 lakhs people will be able to conduct mass testing is a matter that is skeptical to all.
Now, when it is not sure whether a person violated the curfew and had been tested with RAT, but released after being tested negative, it will be more dangerous to the society as if he carries the virus and assuming himself as negative he may take himself lighter and relieve thinking that he is not a career of the virus. There is a possibility of spreading the virus to people who considered themselves virus-free, even though the result was inaccurate.
Something is seriously wrong with the way that the Covid-19 pandemic is being dealt with. It seems like some people who are on the top are advising the Chief Minister to get the blessing without any knowledge of public health. These people have also never seemed to have consulted with the Public health experts just to show their ego.
This is a serious issue and the Chief Minister should be open now and should think of appropriate experts to be utilized at the time of this serious crisis.
Covid Vaccinations as of now is going on just for name shake as of now, let this mass testing be deal with care on the advice of the public health experts.