To be discharged sans test results : How about ICMR guidelines ?
Completed 14 days quarantine ? Fine, now go home for home quarantine even if results are not yet available, is the instruction that one will receive from the Government soon. That is if the official notification issued by the Principal Secretary of Health on June 11, even as 34 people tested positive, fortunately all people who are under quarantine, is not rectified. There was a reason why the State Government decided to drop the idea of letting all those returning by air to go straight for home quarantine and instead let them spend 14 days in quarantine centres. However the recent notification to discharge inmates even if their test results are yet to be received will surely disturb many. Is this decision in sync with the protocols laid down by the World Health Organisation ? This poser is important for the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has clearly spelt out that ‘the quarantined people need to be discharged at the end of 14 days provided samples are negative.’ There is no doubt here. This is the SOP laid down by the ICMR. The key words here are provided samples are negative and here is a Government notification stating that after the 14 days quarantine period, the inmates will be discharged, even if the test results are yet to be received. The latest notification from the State Government will obviously rub many the wrong way, but at the same time it is also important to remember the immense pressure that the Government must be under with the huge number of people who have returned and are still returning everyday, by flights, by road and by train. So far about 22,000 people have returned by train while another 8000 have returned by air after domestic flights resumed and this is not taking into calculation the many who have returned by road from Guwahati, Shillong and Kolkata among other places.
As laid down in the protocols to be followed, all the returnees will have to be quarantined for at least 14 days and with so many returning daily, the pressure on the Government to house them all can be understood. With more and more people returning, the number of positive cases has been correspondingly increasing and one can understand the extreme pressure that must have been mounted on the two principal hospitals, RIMS and JNIMS. At the moment, Manipur has more than 300 active cases of infection and the pressure that must have been mounted on the COVID wards at the two hospitals can be imagined. Same is the case with the pressure mounted on the existing quarantine centres (133 institutional quarantine centres and over 600 community quarantine centres) and with RIMS and JNIMS able to test not more than 1000 samples per day and the period it takes to announce the results, the quarantine centres must be hard pressed to accommodate all the returnees. This could be the reason why the Government came out with such a notification that people who have been tested but whose results are yet to be declared will be discharged with the rider that they have to go for home quarantine. The position of the State Government is understandable but there still remains the question of whether this is the answer to the situation. What if the results of some inmates return positive ? Wouldn’t this amount to giving room for further spread of the virus ?