Incorrect testing blamed for spike in COVID cases in Telangana

Hyderabad: Telangana health department blames testing of samples for coronavirus by private diagnostic centres and hospitals for the sudden spike in COVID-19 cases in the state during the past 10 days.

The government has recently permitted 16 private diagnostic centers and hospitals in the state to conduct RT-PCR based testing of samples for COVID-19. A sudden spike in coronavirus has been witnessed since then.

In the light of sudden surge in cases after the private diagnostic centres and hospitals have been given permission to conduct testing, the government is preparing to take ‘stringent action’ against several of them over violation of protocol. The health department suspected that the private diagnostic centres and hospitals are doing several violations, ranging from poor quality control, poor hygiene, incorrect testing methods and failure to share full data with authorities.

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The state health department has also observed a disparity in the figures uploaded by private labs into the ICMR and state portals on June 24. The department set up four teams to conduct an inspection, which looked into aspects of infrastructure, manpower, infection control measures and other facilities, including general hygiene. During the inspection several others issues came to the forefront.

According to the inspection report prepared by the teams, while the total tests conducted as per the ICMR portal stood at 9,577, the state portal reflected only 6,733 tests and the records available with private labs showed 12,700 tests were held. It also noted that the number of positive cases as per the ICMR portal stood at 2,076, while the state portal showed positive cases at 2,836 and the lab records suggested 3,571.

The team also observed that the staff conducting the tests have not been trained properly in RT-PCR testing for Covid-19.

According to the Indian Express, the committee further raised the suspicion that some of the labs have resorted to ‘pooled testing’ where all samples are reported as positive even if one among the lot is positive. The inspection team also suggested that there is a possibility of contamination of samples leading to high positivity rate as it observed that safety measures and protocols are not followed meticulously.

The expert committee recommended stringent action against private labs who violated the norms and didn’t follow guidelines.

As many as 6,943 positive cases have emerged during the last 10 days, taking the tally to 12,349 on June 26.

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