Scores of RT-PCR test results are getting delayed in the city due to a private lab that tests the largest number of samples here, sources said. Also, glitches on a central portal used to enter data are hampering the testing process.
Results from SpiceHealth, which currently receives about 25,000 samples a day, is getting delayed, said officials. Samples collected by government-run testing centres is sent to private and government labs for testing. Labs are supposed to send results preferably in 24 hours and within a maximum of 48 hours or face action.
‘Delays in March as well’
“There were delays from SpiceHealth even in March, but the samples being sent were less and COVID-19 situation was not this bad. But since the beginning of April, SpiceHealth is giving most reports after 48 hours and many not even after 72 hours. Most districts have complained this,” a Delhi government official said.
A complaint sent on Saturday by one of the 11 districts to higher authorities has been raised to the Health Minister’s office.
SpiceHealth said on its website that they have been “inundated” with RT-PCR samples to test due to the “sudden spike” in COVID-19. “While we are trying our best to share your reports soon, expect them to be shared within 48 hours,” a message on the website said. The official said samples are sent to about 35 private labs. “Other labs are sending 80% of the results in 24 hours and rest within 48 hours,” the official added.
Over 27K samples
SpiceHealth had received over 27,400 samples on Friday, said officials.
“A sincere request to state authorities to please discuss the issue of delayed reports with Spice Healthcare. They promised six hours. We are not getting reports even in 72 hours [at least for the past one or two weeks]. We don’t get a single report within 24 hours out of around 2,000 samples we send to the lab daily,” a message sent by one of the 11 districts over WhatsApp read.
‘Getting calls from all’
“We get calls from senior citizens, Ministries, MLA offices, VIPs, common citizens that they have not received reports even after 48 hours. We can’t convince them. They just don’t listen and abuse us that we government servants don’t work,” the message further read. The message said if SpiceHealth doesn’t have the capacity, then they should inform the government. “We can send reduced number of samples for some time. But there should not be a delay,” the message said. The official said a week back, SpiceHealth had promised to fix the issue but there has been no progress so far. In May last also, results were getting delayed. Back then Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain had said “thousands of pending results are coming now”.
“From May 7, 2020, reports of all samples collected must be given within 24 hours and not later than 48 hours, in any case… Non-compliance of the orders will be viewed seriously, and action will be taken immediately as per the provisions of the Delhi Epidemic Diseases, COVID-19, regulations, 2020 and other rules and regulation in this regard,” an official order said.
COVID-19 testing centres, in almost all 11 districts, are also facing problems in accessing a central portal in which data is entered for RT-PCR testing.
“This is happening due to the increased load on the portal and the issue has been raised by all 11 districts. The same issue is faced by multiple big labs which upload the results after testing. These glitches are delaying the process of testing,” the official said.
After a new sample is collected, details of the person have to be entered in the RT-PCR android app or the web portal. “The issue was more on two to three days last week, but it was better on Saturday. We hope it will get better next week,” the official said.
When contacted, a SpiceHealth official refused to comment on the issue.