WHO recommends testing of all suspected COVID-19 cases for effective containment

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The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends testing of all suspected cases regardless of the degree of symptoms, said the organization’s COVID-19 technical lead Maria Van Kerkhove on Thursday.

Kerkhove’s remarks were seen as a warning to the recent changes the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) made in its COVID-19 testing guidelines. The new guidelines, updated earlier this week, no longer recommend testing for most people without symptoms.

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The sudden changes in the guidelines prompted concerns from some doctors and experts, who warned asymptomatic carriers play a major role in spreading COVID-19.

“What we have outlined are strategies to actively find cases and so we have recommendations to test suspect cases. And in situations where it is feasible and is possible, to expand testing where necessary, to really look for the cases so that they could be isolated and that contact tracing can ensue,” said Kerkhove at a briefing in Geneva.

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While the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases is increasing by over 30,000 per day, the US CDC has changed its COVID-19 testing guidelines without giving any explanations.

“Not everyone needs to be tested,” said the new guidelines.

Previously, the agency said viral testing was appropriate for people with recent or suspected exposure, even if they were asymptomatic.

The American Medical Association (AMA) on Wednesday responded in a statement that the updated guidelines will result in community spread and more spikes in the caseload. The statement also urged that the CDC and the Department of Health and Human Services should release the scientific justification for the recent changes in testing guidelines.

Apart from medical experts, many states of the country also made it clear that they are not convinced by the unscientific updated guidelines.

US media reported that state governors of California, New York, Washington and Kentucky had all criticized the new guidelines, noting that they would not alter the current testing methods accordingly.

“Shame on the people at the CDC,” New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo said on a conference call with reporters on Wednesday, adding that “I consider it political propaganda. I think it is inherently self-contradictory,” according to a report of WHEC-TV, a television station affiliated to the National Broadcasting Company (NBC).

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