The daily average of swab samples collected for Covid-19 testing, pending in government accredited and private labs in Delhi, remained over 4,600 till May 15, according to last available official data. Till date, 1,60,225 tests have been done in the city.
Since May 16, the format of sharing testing data has been changed.
According to date-wise data between May 4 and May 15, an average of 1,756 samples have been collected on a daily basis. During the same period, the daily average of pending samples has been 4,719.
The situation has remained unchanged even after the Delhi Health Department’s order, dated May 7, to private labs to release test results within 24 hours of collecting samples, warning that a 48-hour delay will lead to cancellation of payments. The order was issued following directions of the Delhi High Court, which had also asked the government to regularly share testing figures along with the number of pending samples.
On May 7, when the order directing private labs to expedite testing was issued, 4,262 samples were pending, out of which 1,728 were from government labs. On May 15, 5,080 samples were pending. According to data shared in the new format, between May 16 and May 20, an average of 3,592 samples have been tested daily, while the average of pending samples collected by the government stands at 2,140.
The pendency of samples has also been attributed to rising cases of Covid-19. “Any symptomatic patient is tested twice before being discharged, while the asymptomatic patient is tested once… Also, more hospitals are now asking patients for tests before admission, and with that more healthcare workers are being tested for the disease,” said Dr S K Sarin, head of the Institute of Liver and Biliary Sciences (ILBS). Dr Sarin also headed the committee formed by Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal to assess the preparedness of health infrastructure in the city.
“Labs were obviously planning for patients, but now testing has gone beyond patients. We may need more testing facilities in the coming days,” said Dr Sarin.
There are 21 approved labs — 13 private and 8 government — to test Covid samples in Delhi. Until last month, Delhi also sent samples to the National Institute of Biologicals in Noida before discontinuing it owing to the large number of pending samples.
Private labs in the city have blamed the exhausting clerical exercise as the reason behind the delay in reports. “We have been clearing all reports. Reports of the positive cases are less and are immediately conveyed. But to compile the data of all the negative reports takes time. We have also increased the number of data entry operators to manage the load,” said Dr Arvind Lal, chairman and managing director of Dr Lal PathLabs.
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