New Delhi: Apart from acute shortage of COVID-19 hospital beds, oxygen supply, the country is also facing shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) kits which are essential for health workers. This is possibly another reason for the delay in RT-PCR tests in the country. The health facilities in the nation are overwhelmed with the number of patients in a day.
Amid rapidly increasing COVID-19 cases, the testing labs have been receiving numerous requests for RT-PCR and antigen tests over the last couple of weeks.
Majority of private labs in the national capital were forced to stop collecting swab samples even from testing centres for at least two days after the overwhelming increase.
According to the health department notification on Tuesday (April 20), Delhi conducted 86,526 tests. Despite having sufficient infrastructure and equipped with machines and testing kits, many labs are closing themselves for three to four days citing overburden and shortage in manpower.
Additionally, according to the ICMR guidelines, the data of results from every lab needs to be uploaded within 24 hours. After the unprecedented increase in the COVID-19 cases in the country, the testing facilities and labs are unable to prove results to the patients even within 48 hours of collecting the swab samples.
Earlier, the Delhi government on Friday (April 16) issued an order stating, "Keeping in view the above and to ensure that districts (and Government hospitals) have an adequate number of slots available in labs to get their samples processed within a stipulated time frame (preferably 24 hours and latest within 48 hours) through the Gold Standard Test in continuation of order 1 tF.No.253/DGHS/PLIW-IV/COVID-19/ NCDC/2020/ 12205-12274 dated 15/01/202 the linkage of public and private sector lab with each District of NCT of Delhi is amended with immediate effect."
However, the labs in the national capital are overwhelmed with the number of tests everyday and are failing to provide the results within the time frame, which has now forced them to close for at least two days to keep up with the pace.
Dr Gauri Agarwal, Founder-Director of Genestrings Diagnostic Center, Malviya Nagar said, "My team and I have not slept for 72 hours. We are doing a collection of 8,000 to 10,000 samples per day and the only issue we are struck with is manpower. Most of the labs have proper infrastructure, be it machines or testing kits. We are running short of manpower. A lot of our technicians are contracting the virus. However, there is a continuous hiring process and also we have to keep training them."
"The home calls have increased by about four to five times. We are trying our best but the home collection is not possible for all. I would request people to come to the centre for swab testing that helps in getting results faster," she said.
Meanwhile, Delhi recorded 277 deaths in the last 24 hours on Tuesday evening, the highest since the pandemic began over a year ago, and 28,395 new cases of COVID-19.
(With Agency inputs)