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Sanjeev Kumar Patro

Bhubaneswar: Undoubtedly, Odisha government has taken many pro-active and significant interventions to take on the raging novel coronovirus by its 'protein spikes'.  However, chinks in the Covid-19 surveillance apparatus are clearly discernible in Odisha.

When the State government has been regularly dishing out the total number of registrations made in the newly launched Covid-19 portal and number of calls made to the helpline,  many relevant information regarding the number of quarantined people in State, total number of samples collected every day for testing etc are missing.

Data with the Covid-19 portal shows the total registrations have now inched up to touch 8,870, which includes 4,601 returnees from other states. Besides, the Covid-19 helpline has so far received a mammoth 10,000 calls.

At the same time, there is not a single information regarding daily collection of samples, and the criteria for collection of samples in the State. The scenario is also quite hazy regarding the number of suspects identified in the State and the total number of samples sent for test.

A chain of events this week shows how the State is not sincerely implementing the updated ICMR guidelines for Covid19 testing.

Consider this fact. As per ICMR directive, a state government has to ensure collection of samples from all COVID-19 eligible cases in State.

Covid-19 eligible cases means, as per updated ICMR norms, nasopharyngeal swabs and specimens of lower respiratory tract of individuals suffering from SARI (sever acute respiratory illness) have to be collected and sent for Covid-19 examination.

How this guideline is not seriously implemented in the State is evident from the case of P-3 - the third Covid positive in State.

As per ICMR, swabs of individuals having SARI symptoms, especially breathing problem, need to be collected and sent for examination immediately. And P-3 has breathing problems, but no swab sample collected and sent for n-coronavirus testing.

Why this happened? The primary reason behind is lack of effective surveillance on ground. Had there been an integrated surveillance, which includes all private hospitals, the State health department could have been immediately alerted and the Covid-19 monitoring team could have collected the sample for testing. It is this lack -in that has resulted in an outcome, where infection risk heightens for as many as 112 people.

Also, it seems Odisha government has been very economical in disseminating Covid-19 data. There is no inkling about the total number of people in quarantine in the State. Many more questions are:

1)How many foreign returnees out of 4,269 and their contacts are under surveillance in State.

2)The Covid-19 helpline received 10081 calls. How many are under surveillance among the callers?

3)What's the status of 4,601 individuals having domestic travel history?

4) How many samples the surveillance team collect every day and what's the criteria?

It needs mentioning here that in neighbouring Andhra Pradesh, urban surveillance teams are on the ground and they were authorised to collect samples of eligible cases.

It's precisely this hazy scenario that has been the apparent reason behind very low rate of sample testing in Odisha.

Now, a question raking up everyone's mind is how could the close contacts of P-3, wife, daughter and domestic help, tested Covid-19 negative, when WHO categorises them as high-risk?

The answer to this is provided by US based Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

It says there are two main reasons why someone infected with COVID-19 may produce a false-negative result when tested.

a) The individual may be in the early stage of the disease with a viral load that is too low to be detected.

b) The individual has no major respiratory symptoms, so there could be little detectable virus in the patient’s throat and nose.

Odisha Covid-19 update:  Sample tested 297 , total positive count - 3.


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