In Odisha, testing for Covid-19 declines as machines malfunction
At a time when the daily testing figures for Covid-19 continues to rise in the country, the number of such tests in Odisha has been plummeting for about a fortnight with the state laboratories testing less than 3000 samples on Thursday, the lowest since May 21.
Health and family welfare department officials said on June 3, the laboratories tested only 2,933 samples, its lowest since May 20. Though chief minister Naveen Patnaik last month had asked the department to augment the testing capacity to 15,000 a day, the state has so far been able to test not more than 5,612 samples; it’s highest on May 19. Since May 22, the numbers of tests have gone down except for a couple of times.
Odisha additional chief secretary of health, Pradipta Mohapatra said the number of tests have gone down as the COBAS 6800 machine installed at the Regional Medical Research Centre in Bhubaneswar since April has malfunctioned for the 4th time. “The COBAS 6800 machine alone tested around 1,000 samples a day. Besides, testing has come to a halt at the Institute of Life Sciences in Bhubaneswar due to electrical short-circuit there. Pending repair of machines there, we are trying to get the samples tested at KIIT Technology Business Incubator,” said Mohapatra, adding that the government’s goal is to get all the samples tested within 48 hours of their collection.
Though ICMR had allowed 19 laboratories in Odisha to test Covid-19 samples, so far 16 labs are doing the tests. Till now 165824 samples have been tested.
Noted epidemiologist Jayprakash Mulyil said all states, including Odisha, should scale up testing more and more to know the extent of the spread of the disease. “The more samples you test, you may get more positive cases. But that’s crucial to find out the extent of spread,” Mulyil said.
Mohapatra, however, said Odisha was testing as per ICMR guidelines. “We are mostly testing people in quarantine centres who are showing Covid-19 symptoms and people who have developed symptoms for influenza-like illness. We are also testing frontline workers involved in Covid-19 hospitals, containment zones and quarantine centres,” he said.
Meanwhile, a junior doctor of AIIMS Bhubaneswar and a staff nurse in a hospital in Nayagarh district today tested positive for Covid-19 as the number of cases in the state rose to 2,488. The junior doctor was among the doctors who were on duty in the Covid-19 ward of AIIMS.