Monday, 30th October 2017

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Kits run out, Bihar count doesn’t rise

Only around 590 samples have been tested at the RMRIMS since March 6

By Dev Raj in Patna
  • Published 29.03.20, 3:17 AM
  • Updated 29.03.20, 3:17 AM
  • 2 mins read
  •  
Around 10,000 Covid-19 test kits were airlifted from Pune on an air force plane. It landed at Patna airport at 2am on Saturday. Shutterstock

Bihar reported no new Covid-19 cases since Friday, with the number of those who have tested positive remaining at nine, including one death. But nobody was rejoicing on Saturday evening; neither the state government nor its stressed health department.

It later emerged that test kits to determine the presence of the deadly virus got over at the lone testing facility in the state, the Rajendra Memorial Research Institute of Medical Sciences (RMRIMS) in Patna.

That led to a halt in tests on suspected Covid-19 samples sent to the institute from different government hospitals.

It also pointed to glitches in planning while dealing with the pandemic that has shaken the world.

Asked about the situation, the health department’s principal secretary, Sanjay Kumar, gave a terse reply. “Test kits have reached last night and tests have resumed from today (Saturday),” he said.

Sources said the state government panicked after it ran out of kits and sounded the central government, following which minister of state for health Ashwini Choubey contacted Bihar health minister Mangal Pandey and RMRIMS director Pradeep Das.

Around 10,000 Covid-19 test kits were airlifted from Pune on an air force plane. It landed at Patna airport at 2am on Saturday.

The RMRIMS director denied that the tests were halted because of scarcity of kits and said the reason was the laboratory was being disinfected.

“The issue of scarcity of kits is a creation of the media. If we do not sanitise our lab, our personnel working in it could fall ill. We have been working since March 6 continuously till March 27. There could have been problems had we not sanitised our lab on Friday. We sanitised the entire lab, RNA extraction place and other facilities. We have resumed the tests now,” Das said.

The RMRIMS director added that normally, labs and related facilities are fully sanitised every 10 days, apart from the normal daily sanitisation done every morning and evening in the wake of the coronavirus tests.

Das said that out of 10,000 test kits, 1,000 pieces each have been given to the Indira Gandhi Institute of Medical Sciences (IGIMS), Patna, and Darbhanga Medical College and Hospital (DMCH) where Covid-19 test facilities are going to start. “We will provide some to the Patna Medical College and Hospital (PMCH) also if they demand, while the rest will be with us.”

Only around 590 samples have been tested at the RMRIMS since March 6, of which nine were found to be Covid-19 positive. One person has died of the disease so far in the state.

A senior doctor working at the facility agreed that it was a very low number and did not augur well for the state in its effort to contain the pandemic.

“We can’t say whether it is fortunate or unfortunate that only around 590 samples have been tested so far in around three weeks in the state. Such low numbers can reflect poor screening. It also means many people who could be Covid-19 positive could have roamed around freely before the lockdown was imposed.”