Citizens in the UK are worried about lack of testing among citizens for the novel coronavirus even after the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommended countries to test more to identify more infections.
However, not many tests are being conducted in the UK and those showing minor symptoms have only been asked to self-isolate.
Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, said in Parliament that he wanted to “get to a point where anybody who wants to get tested can get tested, but at the moment such tests are reserved for only patients, who are mostly in intensive care.
Government statistics from a couple of days ago show a total of 90,436 people have been tested in the US, of which 82,359 were confirmed negative and 8,077 were confirmed positive. 422 patients in the UK who tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19) have died.
As of now, a total of 5,000 people are being tested every day in the UK a number the government wants to increase to 25,000 in the next few weeks.
Nupur and Amit Nigam, who live in UK along with their two children, have been self-isolating as a family, but also feel isolated when it comes to medical care.
“I wish there were better measures in place for testing individuals who have symptoms. My husband has had a fever since nearly a week, but the NHS helpline denied him testing and he was asked to self-isolate and manage his symptoms at home. He has hypertension, so he comes under a higher risk category but still no support offered,” Nupur said.
“Now we are self-isolating as a family without knowing if he actually has the virus or if it is something else. This leads to unnecessary anxiety about what might happen, and I am finding it tough to cope with the stress.”
Nupur’s anxiety is shared by many including Kalvinder Hanspal, a single mum of three kids and a professional who works in Central London.
“Working from home with the news in the background is driving me insane my children are displaying signs of anxiety their chat groups are rife with activity. Then my anguish turns to why are we not testing when the WHO have said to test, test, test?” Hanspal asked.
“We as a developed country have been late to respond. If we had access to testing, we could take decisive accurate measures.”
Jai and his 11-year-old daughter Shivani who got food poisoning and later developed symptoms similar to Covid-19, said the NHS asked them to self-isolate for seven days and later extended it by seven more days.
“When we called the NHS they asked us to self-isolate for 7 days first and then 14 days. They won’t test unless hospitalised. It makes life difficult. We don’t know if we have the virus,” Jai said.
UK started on herd immunity’ footing that aimed to create immunity against the virus when a large population gets it.
Doctor Kailash Chand OBE, former Chair NHS Trust, said, “The experts who advocated herd immunity to the government have withdrawn their advice and apologised, after more analysis realised it would cause at least a quarter of a million deaths. Now the UK accept that suppression is preferable, we need to see it follow other countries in Europe in closing its schools.”
Following the pressure, UK now has adopted the containment’ strategy.’ It has gone from tough isolation measures to tough lockdown and this journey has been quick, but UK may have a lot of catching up to do.
On the other hand, it can be argued why so many resources need to put into testing when the country is also dealing with an acute need for ventilators.
“Four out of five Britons are expected to become infected with the coronavirus and almost 8 million may need to be taken into hospital in a ‘reasonable’ worst-case scenario. 5,00,000 may need critical care while we only have 10,000,” said OBE.
It seems that testing is the only way to identify and limit spread of the novel coronavirus. As of now, the UK is not doing ‘surveillance testing’ on a mass scale, but PM Boris Johnson committed to testing NHS workers first.
It is worth noting that the UK government released 3.5 million pounds for antibody tests for frontline doctors and nurses. However, there are growing calls among citizens for wider testing.
As positive cases continue to rise, UK remains under lockdown barring essential services and travel.