After three private Covid-19 testing facilities in the city faced disciplinary action from NMC’s health department, testing in private facilities in Vidarbha has changed in many ways. Labs are now accepting limited number of samples so that they can complete the entire testing, real-time update and reporting process within 24 hours of prescribed time frame.
Due to this, it has become tough for labs to accept samples from other districts like Amravati, Chandrapur, Yavatmal and Akola. As a result, other parts of Vidarbha have left with no private testing facilities. This is definitely creating problem for districts like Yavatmal, Akola, and Amravati — where the pandemic outbreak is at its peak and all government testing facilities are overburdened.
“We have stopped accepting samples for testing after Nagpur’s Dhruv Lab was closed (temporarily),” said an official from Yavatmal’s Dr Shah Hospital. “It takes three hours to reach from Yavatmal to Nagpur. We have to collect a certain number of samples and then travel to Nagpur. Here, it used to take nearly six hours to complete tests. It’s not possible for us to complete this task in 12 or 24 hours,” he added.
Private testing facilities in other districts of Vidarbha have left with no option but to go for Rapid Antigen Tests (RAT), which has accuracy issues. The RT-PCR test is considered as gold standard in Covid-19 testing.
Dhruv Lab in city used to accept samples from comparatively faraway places like Yavatmal, Akola and Amravati. Other two labs mostly test samples from Bhandara, Wardha, and Gondia.
Sources at Su-Vishwas Diagnostic Lab, which has resumed testing, said they have reduced the number of samples. “We had to comply with the real-time update rule. Updating data real-time needs dedicated time. Due to this, we are accepting limited number of samples,” said Dr Sandhya Saoji.
As far as Nagpur city is concerned, two of the three labs have resumed testing and one more private lab has added into Nagpur’s capacity. Due to this, the number of tests in private set-up is still more or less the same. The only effect on Nagpurians is that ‘door-to-door’ sample collection has reduced. This process is taking more time. Due to this, elderly, ailing people who can’t report to the private lab or to any government sample collection centre due to their health issues are at a loss.
As far as Dhruv Lab is concerned, it has decided to wait for NMC’s written order to resume operations. “We have been trying to comply with all the parameters the NMC has asked us to match. I was summoned by the NMC health department. As soon as we get written orders from NMC, we will resume operations,” said Dr Shailesh Mundhada, Dhruv director.
However, even after resuming, it would be difficult for Dhruv to conduct as many number of tests they used to conduct earlier. “Real-time reporting is a tedious job and it takes nearly 3 to 4 hours. We will be able to receive limited samples only,” said Dr Mundhada.
Statistically, overall testing in city is not affected, so far. On September 10, private labs had tested 26% of total samples of the day. Between September 11 and 15, this number remained somewhere between 20% and 23%. The NMC took action on the labs on September 15. On September 16, total 20% of day’s tests were conducted in private set-up. The number remained under 20% on September 17. On September 18, it was less than 19%.
(With inputs from TimesOfIndia)