Delay in getting COVID test results brings Maradu municipality work to a standstill

The functioning of the Maradu municipality has come to a near standstill owing to the delay of nearly a week in receiving COVID-19 test results from the Regional Public Health Lab.

The primary health centre (PHC) at Nettoor had sent 259 samples last week to the lab, out of which 59 were of the municipal staff, including the health standing committee chairperson. Following the delay, the chairperson opted for antigen test, was found positive, and has since emerged from quarantine.

“Ideally, those giving samples for testing are supposed to quarantine themselves till the results are out. But with the delay, people have to go for testing at private facilities while some others choose to roam around. If the samples of the municipal staff who had gone into quarantine voluntarily turn out to be negative, then the municipality would have needlessly lost their service for over a week,” said Maradu municipal chairman Antony Ashanparambil, who had gone into quarantine five times in quick succession, the latest being when the health standing committee chairperson tested positive.

The Nettoor PHC, on an average, collects 100 samples on Mondays and Thursdays. “We are being told that the delay is because 12 staff at the public health lab tested positive and the facility is finding it difficult to cope with the shortage of hands. Collecting more samples on Monday will only add to the backlog,” said a municipal health official. It is learnt that the lab is trying to bridge the gap with temporary staff, but is still facing problems.

Mr. Ashanparambil, however, alleged that the delay was part of an attempt to either promote private testing facilities or to manipulate the test positivity rate to prevent a backlash at a time when the ruling party was going ahead with its district meetings.

The Maradu municipal office remains as good as closed with only minimal staff while entry to the public remains banned. There are currently six active cases among the municipal staff and the delayed test results will show whether that number will go up.

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Printable version | May 24, 2022 12:15:55 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Kochi/delay-in-getting-covid-test-results-brings-maradu-municipality-work-to-a-standstill/article38309677.ece