Staff crunch a worry as Gzb told to collect 4,000 samples dailyUpdated: Jun 30, 2020 23:14 IST
The six districts of Meerut division have been assigned a target of conducting 4,800 RT-PCR tests and another 11,000 antigen tests per day from July 2 as part of a special 10-day drive.
The special drive has been ordered by the Uttar Pradesh government for enhanced surveillance and tracking of Covid-19 cases across the state, with initial focus on six districts of Meerut.
Ghaziabad district, which is already facing a shortage of healthcare workers, has been given a target of 1,000 RT-PCR tests and 3000 antigen tests per day.
Apart from carrying out surveillance activities, the district officials have also been given task of collecting and testing 4,000 samples per day, which is a mammoth task considering the district’s current sample collection capability is about 450 for RT-PCR and 250-300 for antigen tests per day.
“Our primary concern at the moment is that of resource crunch. We have just 30 lab technicians at present in the health department. One lab technician at the most can collect about 40-50 samples per day as the job involves preservation of records, numbering of samples and needs time. In such a case the health department would need at least 80 more lab technicians in order to achieve the target of 4,000 tests per day,” said an officer from the district health department.
During the drive the teams conducting sampling will be focussing on ILI and SARI patients in containment zones as well as non-containment zones. Officials estimate that they will find about 5-10% influenza-like illness (ILI) and severe acute respiratory illness (SARI) cases as a result of enhanced testing.
“In such a case we would need more Covid facilities. Our present L1 category facility at ESIC Hospital (76 beds) and Divyajyoti Hospital (250 beds) are almost nearing saturation. If we conduct 4,000 tests, we will have more patients coming in and would immediately need more Covid hospitals to admit at least some of them. Further, we will also have sample collection points at RKGIT College and Ideal College, where we would require more doctors and staff,” the officer said.
According to official records, Ghaziabad has received about 8,000 antigen test kits recently and testing using the kits started on June 26. Till, June 29, the officials said, they had conducted 952 antigen tests, out of which 84 people had tested positive for Covid-19.
District magistrate Ajay Shankar Pandey did not respond to calls over the issue. Chief medical officer Dr NK Gupta, however, said that the issue of shortage of lab technicians for enhanced testing is being looked into.
“We will definitely need more lab technicians to cater to 4,000 samples per day, as directed by the state government. For this, we are trying to get more technicians of them from private hospitals. At present we have about 28-30 lab technicians. We are also trying to open up one more L1 category hospital in Modinagar or Dasna in order to cater to more patients who are expected to arrive after testing is ramped up,” Dr Gupta added.
He added that the district so far has been able to collect and test 18,500 samples overall, since March. This includes the samples tested by private labs too.
“Apart from sampling teams there will be teams that are deputed to carry out door to door surveys in the entire district,” he added.
Under the special surveillance drive, the Ghaziabad district as per a government order by UP chief secretary, has been tasked to form at least 2,058 teams, consisting two members each. Officials from the district said that they have put in place 2,500 teams for the drive.
The teams will be visiting 75 households in a day for a period of 10 days starting July 2 and will scan residents having symptoms of ILI and SARI and will also note down details of people having comorbid conditions.
“The special surveillance drive will get started on July 2 from Meerut division and will be taken up across the state. The teams will record symptoms and comorbid conditions of residents and marking will also be done at houses that are covered. It is a massive surveillance drive and will considerably help in early detection of patients with symptoms,” said Amit Mohan Prasad, UP’s principal secretary (health).