Telangana stops Covid-19 tests for 2 days as labs struggle with backlog
Telangana has been conducting an average of 2,500-3,000 Covid-19 tests for the past one week after the High Court pulled up the government for low rate of testing of less than 300 per day last month.Updated: Jun 25, 2020 23:41 IST
The Telangana government on Thursday announced suspension of Covid-19 tests for two days in Hyderabad and surrounding districts amid a massive backlog of samples waiting to be tested even as the state recorded a whopping 920 fresh cases of coronavirus in the last 24 hours.
The capital city of Hyderabad alone accounted for 737 out of 920 cases as the state’s Covid-19 tally climbed to 11,364. There were five more casualties taking the total death toll to 230.
The government had stepped up the rate of testing over the past week following criticism from all sides and a reprimand from the state high court over low testing in the state for a long time.
From less than 300 tests a day last month, the number of tests went up to 36,000 on June 16. Subsequently, an average of 2,500 to 3,000 tests were conducted in the last one week. On Thursday alone, 3,616 tests were conducted taking the cumulative number tests to 70,934.
However, the 10 government labs and 18 private labs which were newly permitted, have not been able to handle the number of samples arriving in them. By Thursday, as many as 8,235 samples were still pending in the labs for testing and the authorities said collection of more samples without testing the pending ones will create problems.
Director of public health and family welfare G Srinivasa Rao said collection of samples by conducting special camps has been stopped for two days so that the testing of pending samples was completed and labs and collections centres are sanitized.
The official said in a statement that each sample has to be tested within 48 hours and till then it has to be preserved in controlled temperature. “If there is delay in testing the samples, it may show false positive results,” he said.
The director, however, said collection of samples through special camps was paused but tests in hospitals would continue uninterrupted. Those with suspected symptoms of Covid-19 can get themselves tested in hospitals.
Meanwhile, following an alarming rise in the number of positive cases for Covid-19 in Greater Hyderabad, which accounted for 70 per cent of the total cases in the state, several business houses announced voluntary lockdown for a period ranging from seven to 10 days as a precautionary measure.
On Thursday, many shops at the Pathergatti business hub were closed as local traders decided not to open their shops for the next few days. “As the number of Covid-19 cases has been going up sharply, we had no other option but to close down our business activities,” Abid Moinuddin, president, Pathergatti Traders Association said.
More shopkeepers declared that they would not open their shops for at least one week. The Lad Bazaar Bangle Market Association also decided to close down their shops for a week from Friday onwards.
The Hyderabad Kirana Merchants Association and textile traders of famous General Bazar in Secunderabad also announced closure of shops till July 3, while Hyderabad and Secunderabad sanitaryware merchants announced closure up to July 5 and troop bazar merchants in Abids up to July 8 ..