SRINAGAR – Doctors Association Kashmir (DAK) on Tuesday urged health authorities in Kashmir to ramp up testing for the novel coronavirus that has so far killed at least 7,468 people and infected 186,669 worldwide.
“We need to be aggressive in testing,” said DAK President Dr Nisar ul Hassan.
“The key to prevent the spread of the disease is early detection of cases and that is by way of extensive testing,” he said.
Based on data, Dr Nisar said most of the cases of the novel coronavirus, around 80% are mild and they don’t turn up and go unreported. We need to find them and test them.
“If we don’t expand testing, how can we say there is no community spread,” he said.
“Not only widespread testing will effectively reduce the risk of transmission of the virus in the community, but it will also save lives,” Dr Nisar said.
“It was because of high rate of testing in South Korea that the mortality among those infected was quite low (0.6%),” he added.
Dr Nisar said under the new guidelines, anyone with symptoms compatible with the new coronavirus qualifies for diagnostic testing depending on the doctor’s judgment.
“Clinicians should use their acumen to determine whether a symptomatic patient needs a test,” he said.
He said the testing should be prioritized for hospitalized patients, elderly and those with underlying medical conditions like heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, chronic lung disease and cancer.
“But, doctors should rule out other causes of respiratory illness particularly flu,” he added.
“Earlier, testing was restricted to those persons who had history of travel to the affected area or who had a history of close contact with a confirmed or a suspected case of novel coronavirus,” said Dr Nisar.
“The new virus is diagnosed by collecting nasal and throat swab from suspects and after triple packing, samples are shipped on ice packs to the designated labs for testing,” Dr Nisar said adding “it is vitally important that doctors use personal protection equipment while taking samples from suspected patients.”
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