Basavanagudi PHC violates antigen testing protocol

Basavanagudi PHC caught violating antigen testing protocol

A healthcare worker takes the swab sample of a woman at a free testing centre in KR Market on Monday.DH PHOTO/S K DINESH

A Primary Health Centre (PHC) was found to be violating official guidelines but not using Rapid Antigen Tests (RAT) on people with suspected symptoms of Covid-19. 

This lapse came to light over the weekend when a couple sought Covid-19 testing at a PHC in Basavanagudi. Although PHC staff collected a swab for RT-PCR testing, they refused a request from the couple for a rapid antigen test, DH was told. 

“They claimed that they had run out of RAT kits. Initially, I thought this was a valid reason,” the source said, adding that he was aware that antigen testing numbers had been coming down in the state. 

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As per official data, the percentage use of RAT has seen a dramatic decline in recent weeks. At its peak in the first of August, antigen tests constituted nearly 60% of testing total statewide.

However, in the last seven days, RAT comprises an average of only 9% of daily testing totals statewide. On Saturday, for example, only 5,167 antigen tests were conducted as opposed to 90,385 RT-PCR tests. 

Dr Shalini Rajneesh, the IAS officer in charge of testing, clarified to DH that there is no shortage of RAT kits.

“The usage of the kits has been coming down because the official Government of India guidelines states that they should only be used on people exhibiting Covid-19 symptoms such as fever, cough, cold, or breathlessness. The number of people with these symptoms has come down,” she said. 

The source mentioned that his wife who required testing had shown Covid-19 symptoms, such as cold and fever. When he called DH to enquire, a staffer of PHC admitted that they had kits available and conducted the RAT. 

Dr Rajneesh said the staff’s refusal to administer the test constituted a breach in official protocols.

“This will be looked into and action taken. This should not happen to other people,” she said.