Are we looking at a ticking COVID19 time bomb in Welsh nursing homes?
The South Wales Argus is reporting today that 200 tests are been carried out per day in nursing homes in Newport, Blaenau Gwent, Monmouthshire and Caerphilly.
I think it is reasonable to assume that the people carrying out these tests are also testing hundreds if not thousands of people in between their visits to nursing homes.
I think it is also safe to say that these testers are coming into close contact with more people than the average person by some margin.
While the nursing home measures are strict and are leaving many elderly family members isolated from the rest of their family, it could be argued that the measures are effective. Up until this point.
However, a chain is only as strong as its weakest link and in the case of nursing homes, one of the weakest links in the efforts keeping the elderly isolated from COVID19, are people coming into nursing homes who have had close contact with thousands of people per week.
In other words one of the weakest links in protecting the elderly from COVID19 are the people who are testing for COVID19.
At best, the risk of transmission from asymptomatic people is inconclusive.
On the one side we have a group of people who are at a high risk of contracting COVID19 (the testers) and on the other hand we have people who are potentially very vulnerable to COVID19 (the elderly) who are at the same time, asymptomatic, meaning their risk to others is low.
Is it wise to be putting these two groups of people in close contact with each other when it is not beneficial.
Asymptomatic transmission is unlikely so why are we exposing vulnerable people to potential carriers, when the testees are asymptomatic.
Assuming the testers are asymptomatic, the chances of spreading is unlikely but why take the chance if there is no benefit?
Where is the upside in this arrangement?
There is no upside.
In short, in our opinion, testing of healthy and/or asymptomatic people in nursing homes is a bad idea.
The precautions currently being taken by nursing homes is strict, perhaps excessive and yet we are leaving a huge hole in the fence by having potential carriers coming into homes for no good reason.
If nursing homes are going to be quarantined so strictly, then in our opinion, we should be reducing the number of holes in the fence to a minimum. Let’s not make these harsh measures in vain.
If nursing homes continue their current restrictions, stop potential carriers coming into homes unnecessarily and take extreme care in isolating anyone in the nursing home who may have the slightest suspicion of symptoms, we will be doing the best we can do.
We just have to wait for herd immunity to become solid in the community before things can return to normal.
Finding asymptomatic people in nursing homes does not help the situation and the testing in our opinion is putting the most vulnerable at risk without good reason.