‘Unassigned’ Covid-19 cases increase as interstate migration picks up

Updated on May 29, 2020 09:09 AM IST

Delays can also happen due to verification needed after samples are sent to laboratories, officials said. This happens when markings on the vial don’t have the necessary information printed to establish the identity or case history of a person.

A view inside a DTC bus with people seated while observing social distancing in New Delhi on Thursday.(Raj K Raj/HT Photo)
A view inside a DTC bus with people seated while observing social distancing in New Delhi on Thursday.(Raj K Raj/HT Photo)
Hindustan Times, New Delhi | By

The number of cases of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) that are yet to be assigned to any state by the Union government have increased by almost 19 times in the past two weeks, highlighting increasing issues in allotment of cases due to inter-state migration.

According to the Union ministry of health and family welfare, a total of 4,332 cases are “being reassigned to states” as on Thursday. For context on the relative size of this number, only the eight worst-hit states in the country have reported more cases. On May 16, this number was only 230 and nearly 2,000 cases have been added to this category in just the last four days.

Also read: Centre may focus on states with more Covid-19 cases, migrants

Senior government officials said that this category had to be created as several cases cannot be assigned to states immediately as they need additional verification and reconciliation. With increasing interstate movement in the past few days, this number has started rapidly increasing.

Officials at the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), Union ministry of health and family welfare and integrated disease surveillance programme network compile case numbers after collectively confirming a case or a death due to Covid-19. The cases are classified to states or UTs after looking at the person’s the address in their government-issued identification documents such as voter ID cards, driving licenses and Aadhaar cards.

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“It is an exhaustive process that requires 100% confirmation of the identity of the person by looking at government documents and other relevant details primarily to avoid duplication and any errors. Sometimes if a person, belonging to for example Delhi, develops symptoms in say Bhopal and gets tested there, then in spite of being a resident of Delhi the case will be counted of Madhya Pradesh because that’s where the test happened. So it has to be clearly documented that it’s a Delhi resident but an MP case. These things take time because several cases fall under this category,” said a government official, requesting anonymity.

“We suspect that among the reasons could be that travel is being gradually opened up and people are able to move from one state to another for work or other reasons. These things do play a role,” added the official.

Delays can also happen due to verification needed after samples are sent to laboratories, officials said. This happens when markings on the vial don’t have the necessary information printed to establish the identity or case history of a person.

“Sometimes the surname is not mentioned on the chit or the spellings are wrong ; then local district surveillance officers are contacted to verify the identity of the person and furnish extra details that are required. Sometimes there is also confusion regarding whether the sample that has come is for diagnostic purposes or of a follow up case. Before final documentation is done all this information has to be clear, so it may take longer than usual with the number of cases going up. That’s what reconciliation and verification means,” said Dr Lokesh Sharma, ICMR official.

Unlike all states and union territories that issue number of deaths and recoveries, this heading in the health ministry website does not contain additional details.

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