Hospitals waiting for reagent to test COVID-19

Kathmandu, March 21

Bir Hospital, BP Koirala Institute of Health Sciences and Dhulikhel Hospital have said they are ready to conduct COVID-19 tests once they receive the required reagent.

Earlier, the government had directed these three hospitals to start conducting COVID-19 tests and it had also directed the National Public Health Laboratory to facilitate these hospitals in this regard.

“We are capable of testing the samples as there are sufficient skilled human resources to conduct tests in our laboratory,” said Dr Kedar Century, director of Bir Hospital. The hospital has plans to provide the service within two days, but it all depends on when it will get the reagents from NPHL. It has planned to test 100 samples for the time being. “We will increase the number of tests if necessary, but we are yet to decide on working hours,” said Dr Century.

Dharan based BPKIHS has planned to start COVID-19 tests after a week as the laboratory needs to be repaired. “We need to work on our laboratory and strengthen the infrastructure. A technical team has already been called for the purpose and it will take two days to finish the repairs. If we get the reagent for testing COVID-19, we can start the service,” said Dr Bikash Sah, assistant hospital director at BPKIHS.

World Health Organisation’s message for countries trying to contain the coronavirus spread was: ‘Test, Test, Test’. It has told countries to test every suspected case. “If they test positive, isolate them and find out who they have been in close contact with two days before they developed symptoms, and test those people too,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on March 16.

After much criticism, the government decided to increase the tests and came up with a decision allowing three hospitals to conduct COVID-19 tests. Currently NPHL is the only lab that tests for coronavirus.

After the government’s direction, the hospitals have been holding internal meetings as well as meetings with NPHL for the reagent so that they can start the service. “We are communicating with NPHL with regard to making the reagent available so that we can immediately start delivering the service,” said Dr Ramesh Makaju, administrative director at Dhulikhel Hospital.

Though the hospitals are ready to deliver lab services to test for COVID-19, NPHL is yet to provide them the reagent. “We don’t have any immediate plan to give the reagent to the hospitals. We need to plan accordingly,” said Dr Runa Jha, director at NPHL.