COVID tests not expanded in Sudurpaschim


Sudurpaschim Province government has so far spent Rs 13.4 million on the purchase of PCR and RDT kits for conducting tests for coronavirus.

Some days back, the province government had made public its expenditure on prevention, treatment and management of COVID-19.

It stated that Rs 584.8 million has been spent under this heading.

However, the province government has not taken meaningful initiatives in purchasing machines and test kits required for expanding the reach of coronavirus tests throughout Sudurpaschim Province.

As per the information shared by the Province Health Supplies Management Centre, the province government procured 2,400 units of kit for carrying out tests for coronavirus through polymerase chain reaction method. These kits were purchased at Rs 4,500 per unit.

“Rs 10.8 million were spent in buying 2,400 kits.

These kits were provided by the Ministry of Health and Population and the Nepali Army directly to the Province Public Health Laboratory and to the laboratory being operated here,” the Centre’s Public Health Inspector Laxmi Kumar Shrestha said.

The Health Supplies Management Centre, Dhangadi, said so far 174,092 test kits have been used for conducting tests for the coronavirus in the province through rapid diagnostic test method. Of this number of kits used under the RDT, 80,150 units were provided by the centre while the province government had purchased 24,700 kits.

“Rs 2.63 million has been spent so far on purchase of RDT kits. Per unit cost of RDT kit is Rs 950,” Shrestha said.

Similarly, the local levels of the Sudurpaschim Province have been conducting tests by purchasing RDT kits themselves. According to Shrestha, the number of test kits purchased and used by the local levels has not been made available to the Centre yet.

“The local levels have also expanded the scope of tests by purchasing RDT kits. The province government had said it would install PCR machine in Doti and Baitadi to expand the scope of tests.

But the pace of work has been sluggish,” he said.

Goods for laboratory meant for three places have been arriving in Dhangadi.

Presently, the PCR laboratory operated at the Dhangadi-based Livestock Disease Research Centre is conducting maximum 250 tests per day. Chief of the laboratory Ramesh Shahi said the laboratory has 5,000 kits in reserve at present. This is the only laboratory being operated in Sudurpaschim Province.

It has conducted more than 10,000 tests so far.

The swabs collected have also been sent to the Central Public Health Laboratory Teku for tests after the only laboratory in the province was unable to handle the number of swabs it received for testing.

Altogether, 2,611 people have tested positive for coronavirus in the province till last evening. So far, 18,875 tests have been conducted using the PCR method while 113,184 tests have been conducted employing the RDT method, the Province Health Directorate stated.

Till now, 495 people have been sent home after recovery in the province. The PCR test reports of 5,096 people are awaited.

The directorate said the highest rate of coronavirus infection was found in youths aged between 20 and 29 years so far. COVID-19 has been confirmed in 1,170 youths of this age group.

A version of this article appears in e-paper on July 3, 2020, of The Himalayan Times.