Home testing for COVID, not an option

Covid-19 Health

No home testing by labs a big concern for citizens, as going outside could prove fatal. 

Gurgaon: People are finding it difficult to get tested for COVID-19 as private labs and facilities are unable to send representatives for home testing. 

Anant, a resident of IREO Skyon, in Sector-62 in Gurgaon, had been experiencing COVID-19 symptoms for almost three days but wasn’t able to get himself tested. “I have called multiple labs and diagnostic centres around my place; nobody is willing to come home before May 1 to test,” he said. 

One of the most significant issues with most of the labs is not accepting calls. Usually, they have a customer care number that connects you to a representative of the lab or clinic. Only four out of ten labs respond to calls when tried connecting. Most labs don’t even bother to pick up the calls because of which the call gets disconnected. Some of them have an automated voice that connects you with someone, which also goes unanswered. This is just one of the cases; imagine how many people go through the same issue and lose hope just waiting for their call to get connected.

The problem is not only with home testing; many labs are not conducting enough tests even at their centres. 

“People who come to the clinic between 7:00 am and 8:00 am get a token. People who have the token are the ones who get tested. We give out 200 tokens every day,” said Sushma, from Modern Diagnostic and Research Pvt Ltd, a COVID-19 testing facility. 

Many labs are suffering because they don’t have enough kits to do the tests. Pawan Arora from Maxlabs said, “We have stopped home testing till May 1 because we don’t have enough kits right now. The lab is accepting blood samples, but testing is closed for the next three to four days.”

Dr. Prabir Kumar Das, Former President of the Indian Public Health Association said, “People also need to be more responsible. If people have no symptoms or mild symptoms, they should try and not overburden the labs or clinics and let people really in need get tested first.”

Some of the places have completely stopped testing as well. “The lab has stopped accepting samples altogether, so we’ve had to stop the COVID-19 testing,” said a representative of SRL Diagnostics.

Sudhir Kumar Suthar, Assistant Professor in Centre for Political Studies, JNU said, “A year ago, as well many hospitals and clinics shut down because of the panic, at that time  too the court intervened and said that the public health services can’t be shut down, even if they are private.”

Many types of research and studies have shown the importance of testing during the times of COVID-19. A study by CESifo investigates the role of testing and age-composition during the COVID-19 epidemic. National Centre for Biotechnology Information talks about how early testing is essential during these times. 

“The advantage of early testing is that we get to know the prevalence of positivity.” Dr. Prabir Kumar Das added.

“The government must intervene and see to it that all the public health providing agencies should operate and try to resolve the situation with the help of local district authorities,” Sudhir added.

The Government of Haryana has a dedicated page on its website for the COVID-19 management plan. It has a list of all the government and private labs in the state.