Even after returning two lots of faulty rapid testing kits (RTKs) to the Indian Council of Medical Research, Punjab is now preparing to utilise 2,500 RTKs procured from a private dealer to ramp up its testing in view of the influx of pilgrims, students and labourers from other states.
Sources in the government said that the state has taken approval from the ICMR to use the RTKs after validating them on COVID-19 positive patients.
“We have now asked the districts to validate these kits by taking blood samples from patients in isolation wards. If the reports match their present contagion status, then we will use these for testing,” said a senior official of the health department.
He added that the ICMR had purchased RTKs from two suppliers in China. Both the lots turned out to be faulty and were giving false results.
“After the ICMR directions, we returned all those RTKs to them. But we have 2,500 RTKs with us that were purchased by the state. These are from a different supplier from China. Let us see if these work well,” he said.
The government had ordered 10,000 RTKs on its own from a private supplier. When the first lot of 2,500 kits had arrived, the ones sent by the ICMR started giving false reports. “Acting on these reports, we
immediately stopped the supply of the rest of 7,500 RTKs which were yet to be delivered. Now we have 2,500 kits. If these work well, these would help us in testing the returnees as there is already a pressure on testing in view of so many people entering the state,” the senior official said.
While on Thursday, the government’s guidelines specify that each and every individual returning from outside should be tested, the directions could change as days progress. “We may even use pool testing. For instance, in a family we can test one person initially who looks more susceptible than others to catch infection. This could provide us with a heads-up,” he added.
The RT-PCR testing kit costs about Rs 4,500 and the RTK costs about Rs 900. “If RTKs work in this case, it would ease pressure on testing,” the official said
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