An expert team constituted by the Telangana government to inspect 16 private laboratories that were given permission to conduct COVID-19 tests has raised red flags in connection with the infrastructure, quality standards, procedures and protocols followed at these labs.
There were discrepancies in the numbers shown on lab records, too. While a lab at a major hospital is said to have conducted 3,940 tests, they have uploaded only 1,568 tests, out of which 475 were positive.
The team during their inspection has found that staff at the 16 labs were not wearing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) kits, compromising hygiene was safety.
Also, it was found that lab personnel were not properly trained to conduct the RT-PCR test, and measures for quality control and validation of tests was not followed in some labs.
Another glaring violation was that some labs appeared to have pooled samples to conduct tests and declared all of them positive when the pool sample tested positive. The experts now intend to conduct amplification studies on the RT-PCR machine.
Also, according to the team, there is a possibility of contamination.
Another finding was that labs were violating government guidelines that clearly state only symptomatic patients or those in hospital to be tested.
The team has recommended stringent action against the erring labs. Gandhi Hospital has been asked to conduct quality control tests for the labs.
Telangana has reported 16 per cent positivity rate, which means 16 out of every 100 people tested are infected with the virus. The rate went up some days back to as much as 25 per cent ever since testing was ramped up from June 15, following directions from the High Court to conduct more tests.
There is also a disparity in terms of the number of tests conducted. The figures vary widely on the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) portal, state portal, and lab records from all the labs.