In a first of of its kind, the Telangana government has paused random testing in Hyderabad and its surrounding areas amidst a constant spike in coronavirus cases. The reason being cited is that there are a lot of samples with pending test results and the state first wants to clear the backlog before getting more samples to centres.
Hyderabad is a major hotspot for the state. More than 50% of the cases recorded in the state are from the city limits.
About a fortnight ago, Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao had instructed the health department to conduct 50,000 random samples in Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) limits and its surrounding districts of RangaReddy, Medchal and Vikarabad, covering about 30 assembly segments. This move was taken as a measure to break the transmission in these areas.
However, the department has temporarily suspended random tests in these areas saying samples are pending in centres and they have to be tested immediately.
According to a statement from the Director of Public Health, about 8,253 samples are pending at testing centres. So far, 36,000 random samples have been collected of the total 50,000. Community centres were set up to collect them.
“A sample needs to be tested in 48 hours -- till then it needs to be maintained at a certain temperature. There has been a heavy load of samples – before testing the old ones, getting new samples is not advisable. Besides, if samples are kept for long and tested, there is a chance it could result in being a ‘false positive'," said Director of Public Health Srinivas Rao on Thursday.
The department added that the break in testing was required to sanitise labs and collection centres.
Telangana has been facing flak for its abysmal low testing numbers, making it one of the lowest in the country and a state with one of the highest infection rate. As of Thursday, it has tested only 70,934 samples across the state in the last three months.
Health Minister Eatala Rajender said the state has reached a capacity to test 10,000 samples per day after roping in private labs. Eighteen labs have been authorised to conduct testing.
As of Thursday, the state recorded about 920 positive cases, taking the total to 11,364 cases. Of the 920, 737 have been in Greater Hyderabad Municipal Limits.