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Tainted kits in use weeks after bust

Calcutta, Oct. 21: Sleuths probing the case of faulty kits supplied by Calcutta-based businessman Govind Sarda have found that these were being used by several state-run hospitals and regional blood transfusion centres till last week.

Officials engaged in the probe established this while examining documents and registers in hospitals in Siliguri, Bankura and Burdwan.

Police had conducted raids on these hospitals in the last few days and said they would continue so that more expired and faulty kits supplied by Sarda’s firm Monozyme India could be seized.

“Preliminary investigations revealed that kits supplied by Sarda were used in a couple of blood banks even after the malpractice came to light. Our officers have been collecting papers to find out more,” said Gyanwant Singh, deputy commissioner of police (detective department).

“Right now, our priority is to seize all the kits supplied by Sarda over the past one-and-a-half years. We have to alert all the blood banks and hospitals to seal kits by Monozyme India,” Singh added.

A fresh effort has been initiated to trace those who could have been infected with fatal diseases like HIV, Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C after going through blood transfusion following tests done with Sarda’s kits.

“Thousands of people across the state could have been given contaminated blood that was tested with faulty kits during the past one year,” said an officer attached to the anti-fraud wing of the detective department. “It is a very difficult task to identify the victims. We have asked the blood banks and hospital authorities to provide details that may help us trace the victims.”

The police have also urged people to contact them if they suspect they have received contaminated blood.

The extent of the damage that might have been caused came to light after two employees of Sarda’s firm disclosed the malpractice to the police in early September. This led to the arrest of Sarda and two of his associates.

A probe revealed that he supplied lakhs of kits to the West Bengal State AIDS Prevention and Control Society that had either crossed their expiry dates or had been tampered with.

These kits are used to test the blood collected at seven centres in the state to check for HIV and Hepatitis B and C viruses.

The police are awaiting a Delhi-based laboratory’s report where samples of the faulty kits were sent for examination.

“Samples will also be sent to the Central Forensic Science Laboratory and the reports will be matched with those sent by the Delhi laboratory. Thereafter, we will seek expert opinion,” said city police commissioner Prasun Mukherjee.

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