With Omicron driven third Covid wave raging in Kashmir,” Doctors Association Kashmir (DAK) on Friday said the actual number of Covid positive cases in the valley is higher than what is being reported.
“The official count is an underestimate as many Covid cases go unreported,” said DAK President and Influenza expert Dr Nisar ul Hassan.
Dr Hassan said use of home test kits and rapid antigen test kits has seen a massive jump since the Omicron surge began.
“While many people test positive by these kits, they do not report to the authorities,” he said.
“Many people also do not get tested worrying that they will be taken to the Covid camps,” he added.
The DAK President said even though RT-PCR test is the gold standard for detecting Covid-19 and its variants, a negative test does not exclude the possibility of infection as the test can miss more than 30 percent of positive cases.
“We see many patients who test negative on RT-PCR test, but show CT features consistent with Covid-19, and they are not reported,” he said.
“Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) in its new guidelines has waived off testing requirement for many categories including contacts of confirmed Covid positive cases, unless they are in the high risk categories,” said Dr Nisar.
“Besides, it has also exempted asymptomatic patients undergoing surgical or non-surgical invasive procedures including pregnant women hospitalized for delivery unless warranted or symptoms develop,” he said.
“When testing is curtailed, we won’t know the exact burden of the disease in the community,” he said.
General Secretary DAK Dr Arshad Ali said accurate data is critically important for appropriate response which holds key to mitigate further disaster.
“To deal with the problem, we must understand how bad it is,” he said.
Spokesperson DAK Dr Riyaz Ahmad Dagga said poor quality data equals poor decision which in turn leads to lost opportunity to improve population health in a crisis.
“Without accurate tallies, response won’t be enough to defeat the outbreak,” he said.