The Karnataka Government recently announced that labs testing for COVID-19 shouldn't reveal test results to the patient directly. Instead, the labs have been asked to pass on results to public authorities who will then notify the patients.
The move has irked experts who are not sure about the logic. With cases soaring in the state, not alerting patients will not only be a violation of basic rights, but it might also lead to a spread of infection in the time they aren't notified, the doctors and health activists have opined.
Order receives huge backlash
Karnataka has been continuously recording its highest tally of Coronavirus cases with each passing day, amidst the confusion and uncertainty the state government has been issuing new orders with changes to containment strategies. However, the latest order to hospitals and labs against revealing test results to COVID patients directly has garnered disapproval.
From now on, the labs will have to upload COVID test results on an official portal of the district administration and local bodies, BBMP and ICMR. In the case of negative test results however, the labs can report them directly to the patient.
The local authorities entrusted will then relay the result to the patients and take them to the hospital as well. The order was signed by the Director of the Department of Health and Family Welfare, Omprakash Patil. However, according to media reports, this was the vision of Revenue Minister R Ashoka.
The move has gained some hard-hitting questions from medical experts and activists. An expert told DH, "This notification makes no sense. If you don't inform COVID-19 positive persons that they are indeed COVID-positive, they will spend the next few hours unwittingly infecting perhaps as many as 20 additional people."
Moreover, ethically patients have a right to know their results. This concerns medical specialists and doctors. Doctors are also concerned about how the patients will be sensitised and the delay in hearing back from authorities will cause anxiety. However, BBMP according to Bangalore Mirror said that the order was warranted when patients without the test result would seek admission at hospitals. But, doctors are worried that non-disclosure of results might deter them from acting accordingly. It's yet to be seen how the authorities will implement the order, and whether or not this will only set the state's fight against COVID-19 back.