Testing for COVID-19 infection, a test of patience

People rushing to register their names at a COVID-19 testing facility at Government Area Hospital in Kondapur, Hyderabad.   | Photo Credit: NAGARA GOPAL

Testing positive for COVID-19 is a less traumatic experience for citizens in Telangana, than being able to get tested at all.

Not all the testing centres here are equipped with the RTPCR kits which are considered the touchstone tests for determining the infection. Instead, at several government designated COVID-19 testing centres, only the Rapid Antigen tests are performed, which if negative, need to be supported by RTPCR test for final confirmation.

While only area hospitals and above have the RTPCR tests, they too are available only in limited numbers, and labyrinthine queues are a major determent.

With the number of people seeking tests spiralling, and the number of tests per day remaining static, the pile-up of the pending tests has been worsening by the day.

“I visited for two consecutive days, but could not get tested due to the heavy crowd. With fever above 100 degrees and dysentery, I was unable to wait that long under the hot sun,” said P. Satya Murthy, a patient visiting the Vanasthalipuram Area Hospital. A predominantly large number of people who can afford the test are depending on private laboratories instead.

While there are only 20 labs in government institutions, private labs are more numerous at 60.

Rapid antigen testing is done at all Primary Health Centres and Urban Primary Health Centres too, but even these are limited in number.

“I went to the PHC in Balapur to get the rapid test done, and was told that they were being given only 150 test kits per day, and that they had been fully booked for two days. My Aadhaar number and phone number were collected and I have been asked to visit after two days,” said P.Srinivas, a patient.

Those resorting to private labs are not any luckier. With an influx of patients, the labs are unable to cater to the demand. Home sample collection requests are being rejected, as the patients seeking tests are far outnumbering the capacity of the labs.

“We have been asked by the lab to stop home sample collection for a day, as there have been pile up of samples. We are informing patients beforehand that the results can be expected only after 48 hours, due to heavy pendency,” shared a representative offering home sample collection services on behalf of a private lab, on the condition of anonymity.

There has been a 600 to 700 per cent spike in the demand for the tests over the past 10 days, said Anirudh from Health Analytix, another agency offering home sample collection service. The requests have gone up from about 600 per day earlier to 3,500 to 4,000 now, he said.

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Printable version | May 12, 2021 11:03:39 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Hyderabad/testing-for-covid-19-infection-a-test-of-patience/article34362537.ece

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