“The CT scan showed my mother had initial stage of Covid pneumonia after which we started medication. However, residents of my colony who had influenza-like symptoms continued to visit grocery shops and vegetable markets. When we told them that they should be in home isolation, they said their test results are awaited and they are not sure whether they have Covid or not,” Satvik said.
The three government-supported pathology labs in the city are taking 3-7 days in giving reports. Many private labs are also taking at least 48 hours to give reports due to limited resources. Some of them are not taking more samples than their daily capacity.
The three government-supported labs at KGMU, SGPGIMS and RMLIMS together conduct over 25,000 RT-PCR tests per day but since the number of samples collected daily is over 30,000, there is a huge backlog that causes delay. The number of private labs authorised to conduct Covid tests have been increased from 17 to 24 over the week. These labs conduct over 5,000 tests daily.
“Over 5,000 cases per day have been reported in the last two weeks. Since an infected person can pass on the virus to at least five people, more cases daily mean five times more people require tests every day. If we are not able to test so many people daily, it creates a backlog and delays results, which in turn provides time to infected asymptomatic persons to spread the infection. We are increasing the capacity of government labs and authorising more private labs. Since the volume of cases is high, facilities are taking time to catch up,” a senior health official said.
A microbiologist at RMLIMS, Dr Manodeep Sen, said: “It has been seen that many of those who get infected and are asymptomatic or have mild symptoms, despite being advised to stay in home isolation, take the matter casually till the time their report confirms infection. Delay of 3-5 days in test results makes such people superspreaders.”
Sarvendra Chauhan (32), a resident of Rae Bareli Road, gave his samples on April 19 but the report was awaited till Monday evening. “I have started Covid medication but don’t know what exactly my ailment is. In case my condition deteriorates, no hospital will admit me without an RT-PCR test report,” he said.