Dehradun: The clinical samples from patients with suspected H1N1 influenza are being sent to National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) in New Delhi for tests, despite the availability of a Centrally-approved advanced laboratory in Dehradun.On February 25, the health department confirmed the first swine flu case of the season. The patient was a woman. According to the health department, at least 15 samples were sent to NCDC for tests so far. H1N1 or swine flu is a respiratory disease caused by influenza virus with symptoms similar to fever. The process of sending samples, testing and receiving their reports is taking around a week’s time.Dr Narottam Sharma, in-charge of the Central Molecular Research Laboratory at Shri Mahant Indiresh Hospital, said the lab was capable of giving results “within 6 to 8 hours” of the samples arriving in the lab. “We had received the NCDC approval last year after fulfilling all the guidelines and parameters. Anyone can approach us with samples for prompt results,” he told HT.But Director General (health) Dr DS Rawat said the department was sending samples to NCDC because the testing was done “free of cost”. “A single test costs over Rs 4,000 at a private lab. Since, we are facing financial constraints, we are sending the samples to NCDC due to free tests,” he told HT. Rawat, however, added that the department was immediately beginning treatment based on clinical diagnosis as per the guidelines of the Union ministry of health and family welfare in case of patients suspected with H1N1 influenza. According to the guidelines, H1N1 cases are classified into three categories depending on the severity of symptoms – Category A (where patients don’t require testing and should confine themselves at home), B (testing not needed but patients with high-risk conditions are to be treated with Tamiflu) and C (need testing and immediate hospitalization, treatment).“Only Category C patients need testing, so we don’t wait for test results before starting treatment,” Dr Rawat said. “The situation is under control and the department is completely ready to tackle any possible outbreak of swine flu.” In 2016, Uttarkhand had reported 20 swine flu cases and five deaths. In the previous year, 15 people had succumbed to the flu and as many as 105 cases were reported.