Mumbai's largest private laboratory has been barred from conducting coronavirus tests for the next four weeks, which is likely to slow down testing capacity of the city, which is currently the country's biggest hotspot. The ban order came from the city civic body, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation, after alleged delays in producing reports.
Delays in report lead to difficulties in contact tracing. It can lead to delays treatment and in some cases, death, the BMC said in its order.
Metropolis has admitted to the delays, saying part of the reason was that their staff had also contracted the infection. The laboratory also said the percentage of the delayed reports is very small.
"COVID testing is a highly manual process. This requires highly skilled workers. This is not (an) automated system that can just roll in thousands per day like other tests. And therefore, we all have to really ramp up the number of skilled manpower. When our employees get sick or or when our employees don't show up to work in fear or (when) vendors don't provide kits on time, we're stuck and we're not able to provide the results on time, in a 24-hour turnaround time," Ameera Shah, Managing Director of Metropolis, said. "The top 4 lab chains provide 50 to 60 per cent of the private testing in the country," she added.
Another private lab, Thyrocare, was banned in Thane by the Municipal Corporation for false positives. The lab has been issued notice by the Vasai Virar Municipal Corporation for lapses. Earlier too, Thyrocare had been banned in Mumbai but now has permission to resume testing.
With over 54,000 cases, Mumbai is currently the city having the maximum number of coronavirus cases in the country, where extensive tests and quick results are crucial.
Action is also likely against three private laboratories operating in the industrial township of Noida in Uttar Pradesh, near Delhi, after 35 patients spent three days at coronavirus facilities after incorrect reports from the laboratories.
The initial reports of the people had come positive, but a second set showed they did not have coronavirus - the technical term for which is "false positives".