4 lakh rapid test kits bound for Tamil Nadu diverted to USA
Chennai: A Chinese consignment of 4 lakh rapid test kits (RTKs) was to arrive in Tamil Nadu on Saturday to help the state's coronanvirus testing process. But that shipment was diverted to the United States.
Tamil Nadu has witnessed a huge spurt in coronavirus cases in the past week, and the need to ramp up testing is desperate.
So as a strategic measure, the Tamil Nadu health authorities have decided to go straight to the confirmatory PCR (polymerase chain reaction) tests rather than wait for the four lakh rapid test kits (RTKs) which it had hoped to get from China.
Disclosing this at a press conference Saturday, chief secretary K Shanmugam said Tamil Nadu has 15,000 PCR kits on hand.
However, the central government is promising to dispatch to Tamil Nadu 50,000 RTKs whenever the next consignment from China arrives. Plus another 50,000 RTKs may be available.
But Tamil Nadu is not waiting. The RTK's advantage is that it allows the authorities to cover a large number of people in 30 minutes. But the results need validation by a PCR test.
Dr Shanmugam said the RTKs are meant for primary mass screening in Covid-19 hot-spots and areas under the Containment Plan (CP), in which blood samples of everyone in a target group are taken.
People detected as having Covid-19 symptoms by these RTK tests will have to be further subjected to a PCR test to confirm the presence of the new coronavirus.
The overall situation in Tamil Nadu is not good. Dr Shanmugam said the total number of positive cases shot up to 969 by Saturday evening with 58 new positive cases reported during the day.
More alarmingly, only four of the new cases had a history of inter-state travel ; other 54 were contact infections.
Eight doctors have been affected so far.
Dr Shanmugam said one death, of a 65-year-old man, was confirmed at the Erode government hospital. The man from Perundurai had a contact history.
This death takes the toll due to Covid-19 infections in Tamil Nadu to ten.
The Tamil Nadu cabinet met Saturday evening after chief minister had participated in the chief ministers' videocon with prime minister Modi earlier in the afternoon. Palaniswami said he informed the PM about Tamil Nadu's need to implement is containment plan (CP) with greater rigour.
Tamil Nadu is colour-coding the affected districts in order of severity: red, orange and yellow. Palaniswami was among the many chief ministers who supported an extension to the lockdown by another two weeks.