New Delhi: Private laboratories testing Covid-19 samples in Telangana have been violating guidelines, an inspection by the state government has found, raising questions over the veracity of the region’s increased number of cases and positivity rate in the capital city of Hyderabad.
An inspection report of four teams consisting of senior microbiologists and officials of the health department found that “private labs in the city were not following safety norms and staff was not wearing PPE kits”. It highlights that the labs were in poor hygienic conditions and safety cabinets were not available.
“There is a clear evidence that staff conducting the tests have not been trained properly in RT-PCR testing for Covid-19,” it further stated, adding that measures for quality and validation of tests were not followed in some of the labs either.
The report was released along with the health bulletin late Friday evening.
The government has claimed that private diagnostic centres, which received permission to conduct the diagnostic tests from 15 June, reported discrepancies in their data.
The inspection committee expressed suspicion over some private labs undertaking pooled testing, wherein all cases are reported as positive without doing individual tests. This leads to even negative cases being shown as positive, the report pointed out.
The committee also suspected the possibility of contamination of samples, resulting in high positivity rate since safety measures and protocols weren’t being followed meticulously.
The report also pointed to a disparity in statistics uploaded by the labs to the state portal and the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) portal. The ICMR is the country’s nodal medical research body tackling the Covid-19 pandemic
“At one of the labs in a major hospital, the actual number of tests conducted was 3,940, but they have uploaded only 1,568 tests and shown 475 as positive,” the report said.
The ICMR portal shows that these labs conducted 9,577 tests, of which 2,076 were positive. According to the state portal, 6,733 tests were conducted, of which 2,836 tested positive for Covid-19.
According to lab records, tests conducted equalled 12,700 while 3,571 tested positive in these labs. “In view of this, the positivity rate percentage is very high which is actually less if the number of all tests is uploaded,” stated the report.
The team also took cognisance of how some of these private labs were conducting tests for walk-ins and advertising that samples will be collected from various parts of the city.
“Government guidelines are very clear that only symptomatic cases and patients admitted in hospital should be tested,” read the report, adding that they weren’t following ICMR guidelines.
Despite having a positivity rate as high as 30.2 per cent, Hyderabad had suspended Covid-19 testing for two days to clear backlog of samples.
According to the latest data released by the Telangana government, 12,309 cases of coronavirus have been reported so far. The state has tested 75,308 samples while 237 people have died of the infection.
Of the 985 cases reported Friday, 774 were from Hyderabad.
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