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HomekarnatakaKarnataka ramps up Covid-19 testing but is running low on kits

Karnataka ramps up Covid-19 testing but is running low on kits

Karnataka is running low on RT-PCR testing kits amid the state government’s plans to do at least 5,000 Covid tests a day.

While officials maintain there are enough kits for now, well-placed sources said there has been no procurement. All three tenders to procure the kits have drawn a blank, they added. 

“If testing is ramped up, we may do tests for only a week with the current supplies,” a senior official from the health department said. The shortage of kits is acute in the districts and there is an immediate need to restock, the official added. 

Karnataka is aiming to do 5,000 Covid tests a day after JN.1, a new fast-spreading sub-variant of the novel coronavirus, was detected in neighbouring Kerala last week. Before that, the state was doing only 2,600 Covid tests a week.

According to official estimates, the state will need at least three to four lakh testing kits in the next three months if it has to do 5,000 tests a day.

Health and Family Welfare Minister Dinesh Gundu Rao acknowledged the shortage of RT-PCR kits.

“There is a need to increase testing, which means we need a large number of kits. We need to work to procure them,” he told DH. He added that the health department was looking at short-term measures to replenish the supplies.

“We will soon ask District Health Officers to procure the test kits locally. We do not want them to wait till the tender is finalised. They can buy whatever is required for the next few weeks. At the same time, we will work to procure large quantities of test kits,” he added. 

Karnataka also has a low stock of Viral Transfer Media (VTM), an equipment used to transport the collected samples. The VTM is vital in ensuring that the samples yield accurate results and do not get damaged during transportation.

Rao exuded confidence that the government would procure all the essentials soon. 

(Published 20 December 2023, 01:17 IST)

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