Covid testing in Kasaragod may run into trouble as govt to shut Spice Health unit, fires trained technicians of CUK lab
Spice Health's mobile unit used to test 700 samples per day. CUK lab struggling with three untrained staff is testing only 250 samples from a peak of 2,500 samples per day.
KASARAGOD: The covid RT-PCR testing in the district is likely to hit a rough patch with the government deciding to wind up the mobile testing unit of Spice Health. On average, Spice Health used to test 700 samples every day.
Now, the entire covid tests of the district will be done at the Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Lab of the Central University of Kerala (CUK). But officials said CUK lab is now testing only 250 samples a day -- from the peak of 2,500 samples per day -- after the government fired all the 12 ad hoc technicians and data entry staff hired under the National Health Mission.
The CUK lab now has three new but untrained lab technicians, said an official. "An RT-PCR lab needs special skills. The technicians who were fired were trained and efficient. We will be losing precious time training the recruits who joined now," said an official. The least the government could have done was to absorb the trained technicians under the new hiring scheme, he said.
According to the official, the lab would need at least 15 technicians to conduct 2,000 tests per day.
The other problem is the covid testing lab is now run by the university's department. "With regular classes resuming, students will need access to the lab," said the official.
A new lab building funded by the NHM is ready but it does not have a generator and a UPS to ensure an uninterrupted power supply. "These things were brought to the notice of the district administration months ago. But the officials are waking up to it only after the government decided to wind up the service of Spice Health," said the official quoted above.
In the corona core committee meeting held on Wednesday, collector Bhandari Swagat Ranveerchand directed the District Industrial Centre manager to check with the Department of Industries if any CSR fund is available to buy the generator and the UPS.
The covid lab in CUK is also facing the problem of waste disposal. The Indian Medical Association's IMAGE was contracted to pick the biowaste from the lab. "Going by the waste generated at the lab, they used to come at least four days a week. But now they come only once. The waste gets piled up in a faculty's room," said the official.