Precaution no excuse for delay

The statement given by Principal Secretary Health, Government of Meghalaya that henceforth certain categories of visitors to the State would be exempted from the Covid check at the different entry points is sensible. The official listed VVIPs, VIPs and those in the Intelligence Bureau (IB) etc., whose visits should not be publicised for obvious reasons. No other state tests people for Covid before entering them. All states however ask for a RT-PCR check clearance certificate conducted within 72 hours of travel to the state.  Meghalaya needs to follow this procedure. This should be enough because quite a few visitors have reported that while they subjected themselves to the RAT test at the entry points, they were never given a receipt for Rs 500 charged for the test and nor were they given the test certificate but were simply cleared to enter the State. It would seem therefore that the Covid test at the entry point is a mere formality conducted very perfunctorily.

If exemptions are made they should be made for all. Meghalaya cannot treat some citizens as more equal than others. Any visitor entering a state does not want to be unnecessarily delayed. With the MRSSA check having started, visitors also have to queue up for that clearance too and there is needless delay at the entry and exit points. The exemption is being made in respect of people staying in the state for not more than 3 days (72 hours) and symptomatic officials/dignitaries will be subjected to necessary testing protocols. This can be extended to other visitors as well since every visitor has to mandatorily download the Arogya Setu App which will help the health officials of the state to keep a tab on every such person (if that is at all possible). While stringent testing facilities are needed to keep Covid at bay especially now with the new strains from the UK having arrived in India, the testing protocols need to be reset based on the experiences of those manning the checkpoints and also that of visitors. In fact, the Meghalaya Government should open a feedback portal for visitors to register their grievances. That’s the only way to improve services.

If as has been repeatedly claimed by medical experts across the world that the RAT test for Covid is unreliable and one testing positive could turn out negative and vice versa then it would be fair to assume that RT-PCR test is the best option and the gold standard as far as Covid testing is concerned then why not insist that people conduct that test in their respective states before entering Meghalaya. It would save much time, effort and human resources.

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