The Telangana government on Saturday served notices on 13 private laboratories in Hyderabad which have been reporting abnormal testing results for Covid-19 and lacking adequate infrastructure and trained manpower.
State director of public health G Srinivasa Rao told reporters that the health department had noticed huge discrepancies in the testing conducted by some of these private laboratories. “For example, on Friday, one of these private laboratories reported 2,672 positive cases against 3,726 total samples tested, which means the positivity rate was 71.7% which is highly unlikely,” he said.
He said usually, the positivity rate for a typical government or private laboratory was around 20- 25%. “We suspect the test results could have been contaminated and that’s why we held back those results, which will be studied in detail by an expert committee and released,” Rao said.
At present, there are 23 private diagnostic laboratories that have received Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) permission to conduct Covid-19 diagnostics in Telangana. A majority of these private laboratories in Hyderabad had National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories (NABL) certification that enabled ICMR to issue permission to take up Covid-19 tests.
Last week, four expert teams from the Telangana medical and health department inspected these private labs and found large scale violation of norms in conducting Covid-19 tests. The teams examined various aspects like infrastructure, human resources, infection control measures and other facilities including general hygiene.
The teams went through the registers and data uploaded by the labs into ICMR and Telangana state portal and found a lot of discrepancies in the data. Many of the labs were not taking safety measures such as staff not wearing personal protection equipment (PPE), safety cabinets not being available and lack of proper hygienic conditions. The staff conducting the tests for Covid-19 has not been trained properly in RT-PCR testing.
The inspection report pointed out that there was possibility of contamination of samples leading to high positivity rate because safety measures and protocols are not followed meticulously.
“We have given sufficient time to these laboratories to rectify the defects. Some of them rectified and some others are still doing it. If laboratories do not follow ICMR guidelines and do not correct discrepancies, then their recognition will be cancelled,” the health director said.
He said four more government laboratories including Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Medical Sciences, Adilabad, Government General Hospitals in Nizamabad, Suryapet, and Area Hospital in Gadwal have now received permission to conduct Covid-19 testing through CBNAAT machines, which are also utilised for TB diagnosis.
Stating that adequate measures were being taken to contain the spread of Covid-19, Rao said so far, more than 12,000 patients were being treated in home isolation and another 785 patients were in hospitals. “The cases were increasing alarmingly during the Unlock period,” he said.
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