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Coronavirus | Results for 144 samples delayed by month in Indore declared negative

Collection exceeded testing capacity earlier, say officials

The Mahatma Gandhi Memorial Medical College, Indore, has declared COVID-19 test results for at least 144 persons negative, almost a month after their samples were collected. An overwhelmed testing capacity caused the delay, college officials said.

The results are on the lists for May 11, 12, 13 and 14 that were displayed on the district administration website. The names, age and addresses of thousands who tested positive and negative on these days, and even the contact details of some, were accessible until May 27.

On May 11, the results for 45 persons, with sample COVID ID numbers from 6,000 to 8,000 (collected on April 14-17), stand out from the rest on the same list having the ID numbers between 18,000 and 23,000, indicating they were collected much recently.

Similarly, the next day, the results for 35 persons in the series of 5,000-6,000 (collected on April 11-13) were declared, along with others. On May 13, the results of 64 samples in the 2,000-4,000 series (collected around April 10) were declared. And on May 14, the results of 19 samples in the 8,000-12,000 series were declared, almost 15 days after their collection.

The Hindu picked one person randomly from each of the four lists to verify whether they were informed of the delayed results. Three said they were officially informed, while one, a doctor, said he wasn’t, although his sample was collected on April 12. When enough testing capacity is available, a result is ideally communicated within two days of sample collection.

A 37-year-old man, whose sample was collected on April 10 and the result declared on May 13, said, “What’s the point of telling now? It’s been a traumatic experience for me all this while as I lived separately in home isolation for so long.” For the other two, the samples were collected on April 9 and 26.

Anita Mutha, Head of the Microbiology Department, explained that around mid-May the workload overwhelmed the capacity. “We catered to 14 districts and Indore, using just one laboratory. The lockdown affected logistics, making it difficult to ramp up testing,” she said.

But now, she added, there was no pendency. “We have four laboratories now, and will get another two soon. In case our workload is more, we rely on private facilities. Five-six districts depend on us now,” she said. The college gets at least a 1,000 samples every day, for which results were declared in two days, she said.

In a written response, she said, “While testing, many samples show ‘sample invalid’ reports. Those samples, whose CT [cycle threshold] value and graph show indication of probable positive, are immediately taken for repeat RNA extraction and repeat PCR testing. Though this process takes again almost 12 hours and occupies a large capacity of machines, it is very important as not a single positive report should be missed due to invalidity.”

Dr. Mutha added, “However, those samples which show unclear negative trend in their CT value and graphical presentation are considered invalid and stored in -70°C refrigerator. They are repeat tested by repeat RNA extraction and repeat PCR testing whenever laboratory capacity is available. Samples can be stored at -70°C for a longer period.”

“Around 150-200 are declared invalid every day,” said Dean Jyoti Bindal. “Doubtful positive invalid samples are sent for immediate RNA extraction. That’s why in sample test results coming in late you didn’t find any positive.”

Amulya Nidhi, of the Jan Swasthya Abhiyan, said this put a question mark over the pendency data. “Around 8,439 samples were pending as of April 26 in Madhya Pradesh. After that, the government stopped giving pendency details. It is yet to issue a clarification, and what happened to those samples.”

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Printable version | Jul 12, 2020 9:08:54 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/coronavirus-results-for-144-samples-delayed-by-month-in-indore-declared-negative/article31699551.ece

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