Prakasam District Collector Pola Bhaskar has raised concerns over negligence in sample collection and labelling them. In a video from Andhra Pradesh’s Prakasam district, which surfaced on Sunday, the Collector is seen addressing officials in a review meeting, expressing worry over the negligence.
Sharing observations that there was a delay in contact tracing, Bhaskar went on to say that after tracing primary and secondary contacts, there were discrepancies in sample collection as well. “Medical officers are not taking the care needed after collecting the samples, while sending them. Many people are sending the VTM (Viral Transport Medium) or VLM (Viral Lysis Medium) without marking ID numbers. In that case, after testing at the lab, whom should the result be assigned to? This is major negligence, a terrible mistake,” the Collector said.
Samples to be tested for COVID-19 through TrueNAT method are collected in VLM or Viral Lysis Medium, while VTM is used to collect samples for RT-PCR tests.
The collector also said that there were “deviations” and a “negligent attitude” in implementing COVID-19 guidelines at the field level. “Samples are being sent without marking which ones are primary and secondary contacts, which ones are from ‘sentinel surveillance’, without marking distinctions related to age group and comorbidities. If everything is just sent together in a box, how will the lab technician know which samples to prioritise while testing,” the Collector asked officials, adding that a lot of samples were being wasted after collection.
The sentinel surveillance method for testing is being implemented by the Andhra Pradesh government to check for community spread of COVID-19 infection. Under the programme, people from varied categories, including those working in crowded marketplaces and industries, as well as people travelling across regions are to be tested regularly.
The state Special Chief Secretary (Health) Jawahar Reddy had recently instructed district authorities to use a colour coding method to divide samples into four categories, to indicate the urgency for testing, in order to avoid any delays.
As of Saturday, Prakasam district had 381 active patients. Five people have succumbed to the disease in the district, while 652 people have recovered.