After being heavily criticised for its handling of the coronavirus situation in the state, the Telangana government’s expert team carried out inspections across 16 private laboratories and revealed several shortcomings and other violations of COVID-19 regulations.
These private labs were given the permission to conduct COVID-19 tests by the state government, however, the expert team pointed out problems in their infrastructure, quality standards, procedures, protocols, and gap in lab records.
The inspection was undertaken after a lot of discrepancies were reported in the data uploaded by the private labs on June 24.
According to a report in NDTV, a lab at a major hospital in the city has conducted 3,940 coronavirus tests, whereas they’ve uploaded only 1,568 of them, out of which 475 were positive.
Other than the discrepancy in numbers, during their inspection, the team also found that the staff were not wearing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) kits, compromising hygiene and safety. The technicians also lacked basic training to conduct the RT-PCR test.
They also found out that measures for quality control and validation of tests were not followed in some of the 16 inspected laboratories.
Earlier, medicos and researchers alleged that enough testing was not being carried out in the state and pooled sampling is being adhered to.
Related to the allegations, the expert team also found out that some labs did use pooled samples to conduct tests and declared all of them as positive since they belonged to the same pool.
“Committee (which examined the inspection reports) also expressed (view) that there is suspicion in some labs of pooled testing being done, when all cases are reported as positive without doing individual testing leading to some negative cases also being shown as positive. It will be studied by experts using the amplification plots generated by RT-PCR machine,” the bulletin said.
It is also suspected that there is possibility of contamination of samples leading to high positivity rate because safety measures and protocols are not followed meticulously, it said.
Another glaring finding was that these labs were violating government guidelines that state only symptomatic patients or those in hospital to be tested.
Meanwhile, the team has recommended action against the labs and Gandhi Hospital has been asked to conduct quality control tests.
The surge in COVID-19 cases continued unabated in Telangana on Friday, with as many as 985 new cases and seven deaths being reported, taking the tally of positive cases in the state to 12,349 and fatalities to 237.
Out of the 985 fresh cases, 774 were reported from the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC), followed by Ranga Reddy district, neighbouring Hyderabad, with 86 cases.
A state government bulletin said 4,766 people have been discharged so far, while 7,436 were under treatment.
According to the bulletin, 4,374 samples were tested on Friday. Cumulatively, 75,308 samples have been tested.
In addition, disparity in numbers uploaded by the labs in the data entry made into ICMR and state portals has also been seen.
The expert committee will conduct further inspection to study the problem in detail, it added.