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Kits shortage: Ayub Teaching Hospital stops Covid-19 tests

Peshawar

June 1, 2020

ABBOTTABAD: The newly established laboratory at the Ayub Teaching Hospital (ATH) here stopped conducting Covid-19 tests for the last one week due to shortage and non-provision of consumables used for the PCR machine, sources said.

The sources, while requesting anonymity, told The News that pendency of Covid-19 tests was increasing day by day at the ATH where Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) provided the PCR machine to the public health laboratory to test patients for Covid-19 and generate own lab reports. It was learnt that PDMA had no agreement with any contractor for the repair or maintenance of the machine. The limited consumables provided, including kits used in the PCR for Covid-19 tests have been utilized.

The ATH management had requested the provincial Health Department for provision of the kits at the earliest but no action had been taken so far. “No tests have been conducted since May 26 due to the non-provision of consumables. It has created a backlog,” said the source, adding the same problem was reportedly observed in Swat and Dera Ismail Khan.

The sources said the manual testing facility had been generated at the ATH whereas automatic PCR can protect the health-care professionals working at the laboratory. They said the staff members perform three important processes manually before reading by the PCR if they had to work themselves. In complete automatic PCR machines, they explained, all these three stages are done by the machine in closed chamber.

Medical Director Dr Ahsan Aurangzaib confirmed that they were not having auto extractor along with PCR machine. Therefore, he said the relevant staff members were doing some processes manually. Head of the AMTI Pathology Department, Professor Dr Naeema Afzal, confirmed the installation of the PCR machine without automatic extraction. However, she argued that they have been following the World Health Organisation (WHO) infection control guidelines.

She said minimum staff had been involved in the process by strictly observing the isolation and quarantine protocols. The ATH media manager, Ms Amber, when contacted for official view on the issue, said the machine had stopped working due to some system error. She said the team was working to fix the fault and hopefully the issue would be sorted out soon.