If you feel you could be the next swine flu patient but don’t want to be tested at a government hospital, the suspense is likely to linger on.
There is no clear word yet on when the government will start allowing private labs to test patients for the dreaded flu.
“We have 18 accredited labs across India to test influenza A (H1N1) virus and they are underutilized,” said Dr V.M Katoch, Director general, Indian Council for Medical research (ICMR).
“As the public health system can meet the present demand, there is no need to involve private labs. If the number of suspected cases goes up, we can consider it.”
Given a choice, most people prefer going to a private lab for tests, say paeditricians who are inundated with queries from worried parents.
“I get so many calls and not one caller is happy about going to a government hospital for the test. The primary fear is that government hospitals are so crowded. They fear they might end up catching the disease by going to these hospitals,” said Dr Subhash Arya, head of department paediatrics and adolescent medicine at BL Kapoor Hospital, Pusa Road.
The government has equipped 18 labs to test H1N1 samples. The staff is being trained and the necessary kits are on their way.
But it’s not light, the load on National Institute of Communicable Disease (NICD) in Delhi and National Institute of Virology (NIV) in Pune.
The NICD, for one, is equipped to conduct 63 tests in a day but gets over 100 samples for testing. The results therefore get delayed.