Balaram Bharghava, who heads the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), the country’s top medical research body, said the guidance regarding coronavirus outbreak was “premature” for India, where community transmission has not yet been detected.
“Therefore it creates more fear, more paranoia, and more hype,” he said.
According to Al Jazeera, the officials have said the World Health Organization (WHO) guidance didn’t apply in India because the spread of the disease has been less severe than elsewhere.
Coronavirus cases in India rose to 147 on Wednesday, a day after a third person, a 64-year-old man, died in Maharashtra.
Two days ago WHO has urged all countries to test as widely as possible to curb the pandemic.
Currently, India has only been testing those who have traveled from affected countries or come in contact with a confirmed case and shown symptoms after two weeks of quarantine and healthcare workers with symptoms who are treating patients with severe respiratory illnesses.
According to the Associated Press, India is conducting only about 90 tests per day, despite having the capacity for as many as 8,000. So far, 11,500 people have been tested.
Last week, a British citizen who approached a public hospital in New Delhi for coronavirus test was told she was not eligible under India’s testing criteria and turned away, Al Jazeera reports. After trying and failing to be tested a second time, she left India this week for France.
The world’s second-most populous country has 52 coronavirus testing centers.
Many health experts fear that India’s caseload could be much higher than government statistics indicate and limited testing could leave COVID-19 cases undetected in the country.