Delayed PCR test reports risk coronavirus transmission in Sarlahi districtThose who were in contact with the suspects can easily transmit the virus to others while waiting for the test results to be released, health workers say.
A 55-year-old man from Malangwa Municipality Ward No. 8, the district headquarters of Sarlahi, took medicines for seasonal flu after suffering from high fever and common cold. But even after several days of taking medicines, he was not feeling well. So he went to the District Hospital in Sarlahi to get his swab tested for Covid-19.
It took three days for his results to arrive. He tested positive for Covid-19.
“I stayed with my family at the same house. Now my family might also have contracted the virus. No contact tracing has been conducted here,” he said. “Some of my family members have also complained of throat irritation. I would have isolated myself had I gotten the results earlier.”
On Thursday, Godaita Municipality in Sarlahi collected 32 swab samples but the reports of only 12 samples have arrived so far. Ten of them tested positive for Covid-19.
“We are facing difficulties to manage Covid-19 suspects due to delay in receiving test reports. This has increased the risk of Covid-19 transmission,” said Devendra Yadav, mayor of the municipality. “Those who were in contact with the suspects can easily transmit the virus to others while waiting for the test results to be released. This is why it is necessary to perform PCR tests and release reports soon.”
Sarlahi has 260 active cases at present with four fatalities, according to the data of the District Health Office.
The District Hospital in Sarlahi has a PCR laboratory in operation. “The lab can test 94 swab samples at once. The testing becomes expensive if we test just a few samples at a time. This is why we conduct testing only after having collected 94 samples, which takes a few days,” said Shree Prasad Sah, senior public health inspector at the hospital.
According to him, 390 swab samples have been collected in the district for PCR testing within the last three days. “PCR testing has also been affected due to frequent power cuts. This is why we are unable to release test reports on time,” said Sah.
Until now, the District Hospital has collected 390 swab samples after it started PCR testing from its own lab from April 29. Out of 244 swab samples tested, 85 tested positive for Covid-19, the hospital data showed.
Meanwhile, Kailali is also facing a delay in obtaining PCR test reports, as the collected swab samples from the district are being sent to Dhangadhi for testing, health workers say.
“We have to keep patients under observation until the PCR test reports arrive from Dhangadhi. Usually, patients showing symptoms of fever, headache and common cold are suspected of having Covid-19. If test reports are released soon, treatment can be done accordingly,” said Dr Ramesh Upadhyay of Tikapur Hospital.
The majority of Covid-19 suspected individuals have been provided with supplemental oxygen at the hospital. “The flow of patients is increasing now and it’s already beyond the hospital's capacity. If this situation continues, the hospital cannot handle any more patients,” said Upadhyay.
According to doctors, it takes at least five days to receive PCR test reports after swab collection. “We collect swabs twice a week and send them to Dhangadhi for lab tests. The hospital receives PCR reports after several days,” Upadhyay said.
In the last few weeks, the hospital has collected 407 swab samples. Among them, the hospital received only 285 test results, 88 of them positive, as per the data of the hospital. So far, nine people have died of Covid-19 in Tikapur alone, according to the data of the District Health Office in Kailali.
Ganesh Chaudhary in Tikapur contributed reporting.