Shortage of RAT kits amid surging COVID-19 cases limits supply for general public in Manipur

Manipur health director Dr K Rajo said the state is facing acute shortage of Rapid Antigen Testing (RAT) kits. Hence, the urgent need to control supply of RAT kits for optional use to the public, he said.

COVID-19 is fast spreading among the locals in all districts of Manipur. The total confirmed cases in the state has crossed the 12,000 mark with reports of new positive cases above the 200 mark daily. The death toll has also reached 75 as per latest updates. As the number of new Covid positive cases continues to rise rapidly, the state is running out of Rapid Antigen Testing (RAT) kits. In view of the dire situation, the health directorate has started controlling the supply of the kits for optional use to the general public.

Health and Family Welfare director Dr K Rajo on Monday informed about the shortage of RAT kits when queried about the availability of testing kits in the state as against the surging number of COVID-19 cases amid increasing local transmission. 

Speaking to the Imphal Free Press, the health director said that the state is almost in the stage of acute shortage of Rapid Antigen Testing (RAT) kits. “As such, we have to control supply of RAT kits for optional use to the public,” he said. 

The state health director said that the state government procure RAT kits from the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) approved company, SD Biosensor. Besides this, the Government of India also supply RAT kits free of cost but the supply hardly meets the required quantity and the number demanded by the state government, he stated.

Amid the growing incidence of the Corona viral infection in the state, most people are now curious to know whether they have contracted the virus. However, they are reluctant to go to the often crowded testing centres for fear of contracting the disease, which is pushing the demand for the RAT kits among the general public. In view of it, it has also become one of the major factors for creating limitation in RAT kits supply to the general public, Rajo said

The increasing demand for RAT kits not only among the healthcare workers but also among the general public amid the surging number of COVID-19 cases in the state is resulting in acute shortage of the testing kits. 

Rajo also said that the health department has initiated procedures for next procurement of the RAT kits to meet the demand of the state. “We are expecting that the kits will reach the state before the available kits are being used up. We had to ensure that the available kits lasts till the new ones arrive,” the health director said. 

According to Dr Rajo, the Manipur health department is supplying 1400-1800 kits per day to several the private hospitals, district hospitals, Jawaharlal Nehru Institute of Medical Sciences Hospital (JNIMS) and Regional Institute of Medical Sciences Hospital (RIMS) in Imphal. 

Also, pointing out that COVID-19 testing is becoming a trend among the public, the health director appealed to the people of the state not to conduct the testing unnecessarily or unreasonably.

“To test oneself for COVID-19 is good but considering the limited resources, it is better that the tests are confined for those who are in dire need for the time being and avoid optional ones,” he added.

Dr Rajo further assured the public that the government will make every possible efforts to meet all the requirements to fight the scourging COVID-19 pandemic but at the same time, cooperation, support and understanding from all quarters is also needed. All sections of the state has to come together and work together.

"If you were in contact with a positive person, isolate immediately. Contact Covid control room or CMO for testing. Together we can break the COVID chain," the health department had earlier stated.

On Monday, the total number of confirmed cases in the state rose to 12,105, including 9642 active cases as 250 more people tested positive for the viral infection and one more succumbed to the disease.

First Published:Oct. 6, 2020, 10:37 a.m.

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