Kalaburagi COVID-19 lab remains a non-starter

Kalaburagi COVID-19 lab remains a non-starter

Representative image. (Credit: Reuters Photo)

Reflecting the poor response of the state government in controlling the spread of Covid-19, the lab to test patients at Kalaburagi - where the first virus death in the country was reported - is yet to become operational.

While the initial delay was in acquiring the reagents required to test swabs taken from patients, the current hold-up is said to be due to want of trained microbiologists to perform tests at Gulbarga Institute of Medical Sciences (GIMS).

Speaking to DH, Congress MLA Priyank Kharge, who represents Chittapur in the Kalaburagi district, alleged a lack of urgency in setting up the lab. “The government does not seem to have a protocol or checklist to handle the crisis since day one. First, officials in Kalaburagi said that they could perform tests if reagents were made available. When the reagents arrived from Delhi a week after the initial request, authorities realised that they did not have a microbiologist to test the samples,” Kharge said.

While the state deputed a person from Bengaluru to train the personnel at GIMS, it was clear that more tools are required to run the lab. Though Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa has announced that the lab will be operational from Saturday, it might take at least till Tuesday for it to be functional, Kharge claimed.

Earlier in the day, Yediyurappa in a tweet said that the testing centre at Kalaburagi would address the delay in receiving results of patients tested, and a team of experts would perform trials from Saturday.

Meanwhile, sources in Health Minister B Sriramulu’s office dismissed allegations of undue delay in setting the lab. “Currently instruments at the lab are being calibrated. Trials are being conducted before the lab starts testing samples from suspected patients in Kalaburagi,” the source said.

The official said there was a slight delay in setting up the lab due to permissions required to open such a facility. Now, after Kalaburagi, labs at Mangaluru, Shivamogga, Mysuru and others will also be set up quickly, the source added.