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'Unprecedented' delay in reporting of COVID-19 test results leading to high-level transmission

Unprecedented delay in reporting of COVID-19 test results leading to high-level transmission

New Delhi: It seems all good initiatives taken by the Centre in containing the spread of the deadly Coronavirus may go waste as there has been an 'unprecedented' delay in reporting of results of COVID-19 tests leading to high-level transmission of the virus.

In a startling revelation, it has come to the notice that confirmatory reports of Corona suspects are being reported in over 28 hours, resulting in a delay in the identification of new cases as well as contact tracing of persons close to the positive cases for quarantine purposes.

According to the Health ministry's latest data, states like Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Bihar, Jharkhand and Delhi are taking more than the estimated time in reporting positive cases. The average reporting time ranges from above 24 hours to five days in these states. As per the data, results of about 10,000 samples are still pending in these states.

The situation in Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand and Delhi — where COVID-19 cases have increased manifold — is alarming as all three are taking on an average three days to get the confirmatory reports from their apex laboratories.

After analysing the data, it has also come to notice that reports of a few samples have come after 10 days. In UP, Lucknow, Kanpur, Gorakhpur, Prayagraj are getting test reports in 24 to 28 hours, while the remaining 32 cities are procuring them in two to five days. Bihar is taking about 10 hours for a report to come out.

However, according to a senior Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) official, earlier, the standard reporting time for RT-PCR test was six hours, which has been reduced to four.

"It has come to our notice and we are finding out the actual reasons for the delay. As of now, the ICMR has conducted close to 10 lakh tests and all the labs have sufficient numbers of testing kits," the official added.

The experts have opined that the prime reason for the delay in reporting is non-availability of testing facilities in every district and that has increased the pressure on labs.

"When the same issue was faced by Maharashtra then the state used private labs to get samples tested at the government's expenses," the expert said, adding that due to late reporting, infected patients are not getting timely treatment resulting into a rise in positive cases.

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