Nation Current Affairs 19 Jan 2022 AP yet to enhance RT ...

AP yet to enhance RT-PCR tests to check Covid-19

DECCAN CHRONICLE. | SAMPAT G SAMARITAN
Published Jan 20, 2022, 1:55 am IST
Updated Jan 20, 2022, 7:34 am IST
Currently, the state is on an average carrying out only 30,000 tests per day against the required one lakh tests to help curb virus spread
A health worker collecting swab from a woman for COVID test at Tummalapalli Kalakshetram in Vijayawada (C. Narayana Rao/DC)
 A health worker collecting swab from a woman for COVID test at Tummalapalli Kalakshetram in Vijayawada (C. Narayana Rao/DC)

Vijayawada: Though the centre has urged states and union territories to enhance Covid-19 tests, Andhra Pradesh government appears not yet fully geared to speed up RT-PCR tests. Currently, the state is on an average carrying out only 30,000 tests per day against the required one lakh tests to help curb spread of Coronavirus in the state.

AP has already crossed the 10,000-mark of daily caseloads of new Covid-19 infections and the number of deaths of infected patients is also rising. Once the number of tests rises, people will be able to know their Covid status. They can then either go for home isolation or treatment, depending upon the severity of infection, without moving around in public and contributing to spread of the disease.

 

The first hurdle in expediting RT-PCR tests is delay in getting accreditation from National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories (NABL) for the 19 new Virus Research and Diagnostic Laboratories (VRDLs) set up by the state government. Only 15 such labs are there currently. These are grossly insufficient in testing and delivering results of the samples collected. Unless all VRDLs become functional in the state, testing on a huge scale will not be possible.

Strangely, the number of swab samples being collected presently is 20 per PHC, which comes as a surprise, as it delays the number of people being subject to RT-PCR tests. Earlier, each PHC used to collect 100–300 swab samples per day.

 

Further, the ICMR has also recommended that Covid-19 tests be conducted for only symptomatic cases. This is also affecting the number of samples being collected for conducting RT-PCR tests.

In addition, the latest trend of going for Rapid Antigen Tests at private labs or people purchasing testing kits and taking self-medication for Covid-19 symptoms is also hitting the daily count of RT-PCR tests in the state, as they do not figure on the ICMR portal, which keeps track of people taking Covid-19 tests in the entire country.

A senior government health official said, “Unless all new labs become functional after getting mandatory approval from NABL and people turn up to take Covid-19 tests in large numbers, it may not be possible to enhance the number of RT-PCR tests in the state.”

 

Meanwhile, health personnel involved in collection of samples and conducting RT-PCR tests are complaining about non-availability of reagents, VTM tubes and lack of adequate manpower, apart from non-payment of pending bills for Covid duty, delayed payment of transport bills and other issues.

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