Biocon chief slams ICMR for 'not permitting' asymptomatic testing

Prashasti Awasthi Mumbai | Updated on June 27, 2020

Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, CMD, Biocon

According to Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, the country might have witnessed an unprecedented spread of the disease post the lockdown.

Executive Chairperson of Biocon Limited Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw criticized the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) on Friday for "not permitting" asymptomatic testing in large numbers. She believes that individuals have a right to know whether they are positive or negative for Covid-19, as per media reports.

She further said that the country might have witnessed an unprecedented spread of the disease post the lockdown. She expressed her concerns stating that ICMR is not permitting asymptomatic testing in large numbers.

"Businesses have now opened up their offices and plants and want to make sure that employees returning to their campuses are negative for the novel coronavirus," according to her.

"...some of them might be positive, some of them might be carriers, some of them might be supercarriers. How do I know? Why are they (ICMR) preventing us from testing? I don’t understand. Everywhere in the world, they are allowing testing," Mazumdar-Shaw told PTI.

Governments are acting as if its a crime to test. They are almost making it like that. Is it a crime to test? it’s not because, as an individual, I would like to know whether I am positive or negative even if I am asymptomatic."

"On the one hand, the government did not mind allowing people who fly to be tested, but was not permitting people coming to work to undergo the examination," she said.

Mazumdar-Shaw suggested the ICMR to try triaging Covid-19 cases into mild, moderate and severe and manage hospital beds properly. She believes that if patients are demonstrating mild symptoms, they should be asked for home quarantine instead of overwhelming hospitals and should be given treatment in quarantine centres where their health can be monitored.

"Only people with (complaints of) breathlessness and oxygen needs should go to hospitals, she said. You have to test more. Testing has to be freed up. Asymptomatic testing has to be freed up. And hospitals have to manage patients in a triage way so that they don’t get overwhelmed," Mazumdar-Shaw said.

She also noted the need for testing people based on their risk profile. A person’s risk profile map can be easily worked out by knowing how often the individual uses public transport, the frequency of his travel for work, many people at the workplace, and if he or she has diabetes and has hypertension, among other factors.

Public workers, particularly bus drivers and conductors and delivery service personnel, should be tested as they come in touch with people so much, Mazumdar-Shaw added.

Published on June 27, 2020

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