The advisory comes after several allegations that health officials in Tamil Nadu were not testing those who had mild symptoms of coronavirus as well as a travel history.

Tamil Nadu govt says people with symptoms of COVID-19 can get tested
Coronavirus Coronavirus Monday, March 16, 2020 - 19:35

The Tamil Nadu government has advised people who display symptoms of the coronavirus - fever, cough and respiratory illness - to get themselves tested in government hospitals. Though the advisory did not mention any other details, the state Health Secretary Beela Rajesh says that this is applicable to only those who have travel history, or have come in contact with COVID-19 patients. The advisory issued on Monday comes after several allegations that health officials in Tamil Nadu were not testing those who displayed mild symptoms of the virus as well as travel history. 

“Those with symptoms of coronavirus shall approach government hospitals and get themselves tested and treated,” the advisory states. A source told TNM that anyone who presents with any symptoms can go to a government hospital or health centre. However, testing for coronavirus and treatment will be based on the doctor's assessment of the patient including their travel history. 

In the advisory issued on Monday evening, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami enumerated a list of precautionary and preventiveasures that will be undertaken across the state till March 31. It included shutting down of all educational institutions, shopping malls and entertainment centres for fifteen days. The advisory also requested people to avoid going to their offices if they have cold, cough and fever. 

The Chief Minister also requested people to refrain from travelling outside the state.

Tamil Nadu has been facing criticism from various quarters including public health experts that the state authorities are refusing to test people who have a travel history. As of Sunday, the state has taken samples from around 90 persons for testing and has reported only positive case of COVID-19.

TNM had earlier reported instances where suspected COVID-19 patients were turned away for testing from the Rajiv Gandhi Government Hospital in Chennai. A Chennai-based doctor, who works at a private hospital, had alleged, “For the past two weeks, we have been seeing patients with travel history from places like Singapore, Vietnam, Qatar and other places. We have a separate fever desk that collects patient history. But when we refer these patients, who show symptoms of coronavirus, to the government hospital, they refuse to test them unless they show severe symptoms like respiratory illness.”

He also alleged, “They just tell patients who go to Government Hospital (GH), you don’t fit the symptoms for testing, come only if you have breathing difficulty.”

Similar allegations were also raised by recent travellers, who displayed mild symptoms of the virus. Gayatri Khandhadai, a Chennai-based activist who had travelled to Southeast Asia and Europe, alleged that she was not tested, with health officials asking her to come back when her symptoms were more serious. “Shocked at the TN government response to Corona. I went to the GH to get tested given my recent travels to Southeast Asia and Europe. They told me to come back when my symptoms were more serious. I offered to pay for the test and they said they won't take blood samples,” she tweeted.

Director of Public Health K Kolandaswamy had earlier told TNM that the state government was following protocols and guidelines prescribed by the World Health Organisation (WHO), the National Centre for Disease Control and the state government. He also said that there was no need to panic and that Tamil Nadu had collected lower samples for testing compared to other states as it had only one case of COVID-19.

Read: Are states like TN testing enough people for COVID-19? Public health experts say no

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