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Mumbai: As cases spike, labs feel the pressure, move to increase testing capacity

Nilesh Shah, group president of Metropolis Labs, said, "The number of tests to be done is steeper now compared to the first and second wave. More people want to be tested. People feel the turnaround time is high and they panic."

Written by Yogesh Naik | Mumbai |
Updated: January 5, 2022 8:16:21 am
Kolkata alone has contributed half of the daily new cases with 4,759 people testing positive in the city in the last 24 hours. (File)

With Covid cases rising in the state, testing facilities are feeling the pressure again. The BMC has told laboratories that the turnaround time for RT-PCR tests should be 24 hours, but home visits are already getting delayed and laboratories have begun to hire more personnel to cope with the extra demands.

Sushant Kinra, CEO of Suburban Diagnostics, said, “It is a typical situation in every peak. The first one was very painful as we were not prepared. During the second wave, we built capacity to test more. Calls have now increased five-fold. We are looking for 24-hour turnaround time, and there are restrictions when a person tests positive. The BMC does not allow us to convey until results are uploaded on their platform.” Kinra said they are hiring more people, who are being trained. “Once hospitalisations increase, demand for tests like D Dimer and CRP will increase,” he added.

Nilesh Shah, group president of Metropolis Labs, said, “The number of tests to be done is steeper now compared to the first and second wave. More people want to be tested. People feel the turnaround time is high and they panic.”

Shah said they handled 30,000 calls on Tuesday. “Some of staff are catching infection,” he added. Metropolis is also prioritising testing of people who are symptomatic or more ill or those who have to fly out, Shah said.

Chandrashekhar Mani, vice president (technology) of Thyrocare, said, “We have been advised to be prepared. We can do up to 50,000 tests in 24 hours. With cases increasing, we have ordered additional kits. We will also be hiring more technicians for home collection” He said that if hospitalisation increases, then D Dimer and CRP tests will increase.

A technician of a private lab from Thane said he starts his day at 6 am and ends at 7 pm, whereas earlier it ended at 4 pm.

Senior pulmonologist Jalil Parkar of Lilavati hospital said, “Because of the surge in Covid cases and fear of Omicron, every patient who complains of sore throat, fever, body ache and headache insists on a Covid test. This trend can lead to a total breakdown of testing in labs due to excessive load on their machines and manpower and kits. One should not be surprised if there is a shortage of testing kits.”

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