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Waited Days for RT-PCR Report in Kumaon, Labs Say No Testing Kits

Delay in testing and lack of labs is weakening the fight against the second wave in Kumaon.

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Video Editor: Abhishek Sharma
Video Producer: Aastha Gulati
Illustrations: Kamran Akhter

As India struggles to control its aggressive second wave, my state, Uttarakhand, has been heavily criticised for organising the Kumbh Mela. That aside, as a native here, I want to make others aware of how exactly the high surge of cases is being dealt with here.

I live in Dharchula, Pithoragarh district, in Kumaon. I got myself tested along with my family on 19 April. Some of us were positive in rapid antigen test and some of us were negative, but as you know and all health professionals advise, rapid antigens tests are not always accurate. A couple of those who tested negative are still showing symptoms. It has been 10 days now and we haven’t received our RT-PCR test results yet. There has been no acknowledgment or communication from the hospital or authorities as to what our RT-PCR results are.

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For the sake of our safety and those around us, we have quarantined ourselves in the house. While it is important to know the cycle of infection in COVID-19, we are unsure of the number of days we are to stay isolated. How long will it go on like this? What if someone’s health deteriorates in this time period?

I have been trying to call private labs to get myself and my family tested again, but everyone gives me a standard response – testing kits are over.

Hardly any private labs are conducting RT-PCR tests in Kumaon. All this weakens the fight against COVID-19 in the state. I do not want to blame the government, because all states are struggling to provide healthcare facilities to their people. However, big cities like Mumbai, Delhi, and Bengaluru, have better health resources and are still struggling. Imagine what will happen to us if these lapses persist.

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Coronavirus Still a Stigma

A more pressing issue is the stigma people have created about COVID-19 in small towns. A lot of people I spoke with who are sick said they will not undergo a test because hospitals in small towns allegedly circulate their details on WhatsApp groups. This, they fear, will lead to abandonment. For example, if a shop owner tests positive, he’d have to shut down his shop till recovery. For small shop-owners, this is a big deal, as many are hand-to-mouth businesses.

I just want to plead to the people in my state that no one is immune to COVID-19 and anyone can get it, so there is no need to stigmatise it, and rumour-mongering needs to stop. If ever you know that somebody is COVID positive, please do not spread false rumours or any kind of rumour until and unless you are sure about that person’s health.

Rumours and gossip can take a toll on someone’s health, adding further trauma to a COVID patient. Also, it refrains many from getting tested.

Regardless of what is happening around us, it is very important to get tested and isolate if we are feeling sick. Even if you are from a small town or state, don’t think it will not affect you because it will probably affect us severely, more than the people in big cities because they have proper hospitals, we don’t.

(All ‘My Report' branded stories are submitted by citizen journalists to The Quint. Though The Quint inquires into the claims/allegations from all parties before publishing, the report and the views expressed above are the citizen journalist's own. The Quint neither endorses, nor is responsible for the same.)

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