Two students at north Delhi's Guru Teg Bahadur Hospital tested positive for H1N1 yesterday, a full week after their samples were sent for testing to the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) on August 12.
“It’s inane. Because of the delayed results, all the 350 students who share the campus hostel were put on risk,” said a resident doctor at the hospital, who did not want to be named.
“To prevent infection among contacts, 70 students were put on Tamiflu yesterday, and another 40 today,” the doctor said.
Things are no different for others waiting for results.
Back from New Zealand with a cough and fever, Varun Batra (35) rushed to get tested at Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital on August 9.
“It’s been close to 12 days and I am yet to receive the report. I am living with the mask on my face. If I have the flu and it spreads, who is going to be responsible?” he said.
Even NCDC officials admit testing is taking up to a five to six days due to the huge backlog of cases.
“Samples from Delhi have gone down over the past week, but those being sent from other states have shot up. We need more people to test,” said an NCDC official, who did not want to be quoted because she was not authorised to speak to the media.
Why then are private labs not being allowed to share the load and do H1N1 tests?
Five private labs were reviewed and shortlisted by the government a week ago but still haven’t been given the nod to start testing.
“Five labs — Super Religare Laboratories (SRL), Dr Lal PathLabs, Dr Dang’s, Auro Probe and GenX Diagnostics (Era Health) — have collected samples for proficiency tests, of which four would return them tomorrow,” said an NCDC official. “They pass the tests, they can start as soon as they buy the reagents needed.”
“We have picked up about 100 samples testing has begun. We can begin testing in the Mumbai and Gurgaon labs as soon as we get a nod from the NCDC,” said Dr Sanjeev Chaudhry, CEO SRL.