Nepali Congress calls for new testing guidelines of COVID-19


Kathmandu, June 16

The main opposition Nepali Congress today demanded scrapping of the National Testing Guideline of COVID-19, and immediate withdrawal of the globally discredited Rapid Diagnostic Tests.

The government should issue fresh guidelines, keeping PCR tests at the heart of strategy to fight the coronavirus pandemic, the main opposition told Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli while handing over a special memorandum at Baluwatar.

The 13-point memorandum demands that the government increase and expand PCR tests, ensuring that each of those in quarantine and isolation facilities, even if fully treated, are sent back home only after PCR tests.

The opposition called on the government to expand the PCR test criteria, mandatorily carrying out swab sample tests of those who die in the course treatment.

The memorandum was submitted by a five member parliamentary party delegation headed by NC Chief Whip Bal Krishna Khand, who was flanked by Whip Pushpa Bhushal Gautam and three NC lawmakers from Kathmandu: youth leader Gagan Thapa, Bhimsen Das Pradhan and Rajendra KC.

It urged the government to improve the condition of quarantine facilities and implement the quarantine operating guidelines effectively so that those in quarantines maintain social distancing.

The delegation also questioned government’s laxity in contact tracing even after the COVID-19 positive cases have been identified. While contact tracing is not too hard a project, the government seems ill-prepared even to recruit volunteers who could, at the end of a short training, reach out to and contain those who have come in contact with COVID-19 positives.

Effective contact tracing would help contain possible spread of COVID-19 saving costs and human lives, read the memorandum, citing successful contact tracing practices in Vietnam and the Indian state of Kerala.

The memorandum calls for improving the quality of health services in hospitals, including medical supplies and isolation beds in dedicated hospitals for effective treatment of CVID-19 cases.

NC has also asked the government to investigate irregularities and alleged corruption that have occurred during its activities to curb the spread of the pandemic.

Key demands

• Review and reformulate National Testing Guideline of COVID-19 immediately

• Keep PCR tests at the heart, increase and expand

• Immediately withdraw RDT tests

• Manage quarantine facilities

• Intensify contact tracing

• Ensure supply of essentials

• Investigate irregularities and ensure transparency

A version of this article appears in e-paper on June 17, 2020, of The Himalayan Times.

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