Biratnagar, September 2
People identified during contact tracing of COVID-19 cases appear to be reluctant to take PCR tests in Biratnagar, Morang.
Until yesterday, the total number of coronavirus cases had reached 1,030 in the metropolitan city. While 444 of the virus-infected persons have recovered and returned home by now, 589 others are staying at home for lack of isolation beds.
So far, 11 COVID-19 infected persons have succumbed to the disease.
“Earlier, persons who were contact-traced, would approach us themselves and seek to have their PCR test done; these days those identified during the contact tracing don’t want to have their test done and say they would rather be tested when they start showing symptoms,” said Mayor Bhim Parajuli.
It took some time for the for the PCR test reports to come out earlier, but now, the metropolitan city has installed its own PCR machine at Koshi Hospital.
On their part, stakeholders have attributed the common reluctance of contact-traced persons to undergo PCR tests to the fear of stigmatisation in society and also to the shortage of isolation beds.
“If the test result is positive, one has to say inside homes and face discrimination from neighbours, that’s why they don’t want to be tested,” said metropolitan city’s Health Division Chief Ramesh Karki, adding that tenants were not willing to have their PCR tests done .
Meanwhile, public health expert Dr Nawaraj Subba warned of the risk of viral infection spreading rapidly unless widespread PCR test of all contact-traced was conducted.
“People are not coming forward for PCR tests because of the mistreatment and social stigmatisation. If society did not discriminate, but support those who could be infected and those infected, nothing would deter people from undergoing test,” Subba urged civil society and the private sector to support the government’s efforts to control the pandemic.
A version of this article appears in e-paper on September 3, 2020, of The Himalayan Times.