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COVID-19: India suspends use of Chinese test kits

Indian Council of Medical Research suspends use of rapid testing kits imported from China, citing inaccuracy in results

Cheena Kapoor   | 22.04.2020
COVID-19: India suspends use of Chinese test kits

NEW DELHI, India

India’s main medical research council has suspended the use of rapid testing kits imported from China after complaints of inaccurate results from various states.

“We are learning that the positive samples of RT-PCR are showing too much variation [when tested by rapid kits] in the range of 6 to 71%,” said Dr. Raman Gangakhedkar, a top scientist at the Indian Council of Medical Research, during his daily briefing on Tuesday.

He further added that eight ICMR institutes will test the kits in different states, in the next two days, to validate and check if a batch of the imported kits is faulty.

India became the world’s 17th country to record 20,000 COVID-19 cases after 1,493 cases were reported on Tuesday, the second-highest single-day spike after Sunday’s 1,553. India’s COVID-19 cases continue to surge despite the nationwide lockdown.

As per the John Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Centre, India has so far reported 20,178 cases and 645 deaths.

The faulty kits have led to a pause in the antibody testing, thus causing a dip in the testing rates. India’s testing rate dropped from 35,000 on Monday to 27,500 on Tuesday. This is the first batch of 300,000 of the testing kits, and a total of 650,000 kits were to be delivered by China.

“I had earlier suggested to GOI [government of India] that a centralized mechanism with proper guidelines of the quality check may be developed for the procurements of Medical equipment. Unfortunately, this was not accepted. Had this suggestion been accepted, failure of Rapid Test kits could have been avoided,” Ashok Gehlot, chief minister of the western state of Rajasthan, said on Twitter.

Presidential palace on high alert

India’s presidential palace has been put under a high alert after a relative of a sanitation worker tested positive for COVID-19. The sanitation worker’s house, within the Presidential estate, has been disinfected and sealed, while all other families living in the staff quarters have been quarantined.

The alleged sanitation worker’s daughter-in-law tested positive for the coronavirus after she came in contact with her mother, who died of COVID-19 last week. All seven members of the family have been moved to a quarantine facility.

“115 houses of the President's Estate were identified for movement restriction and residents have been advised to remain indoors. The residents of these houses are being provided doorstep delivery of essential commodities,” stated a release from the Presidential House.

The statement also clarified that no employee of the President's Secretariat has tested positive for COVID-19, and the Secretariat along with the Local Administration, is taking all the preventive measures required under the government guidelines.

23 jails for infected members of Muslim group

Meanwhile, A northern Indian state announced that it will keep members of Tablighi Jamaat, a Muslim religious group, who tested positive for COVID-19, in temporary jails.

The Hindu-dominated Uttar Pradesh state has observed strict actions against Jamaat attendees, with 66 foreigners sent to jail for allegedly defying visa norms.

“All the arrested people, who are critical, or are suspects of COVID-19, and are related to Tablighi Jamaat or any other Jamaat, should not be kept in regular jails. These people should be kept in temporary jails,” stated a letter issued by the state government.

At least 23 temporary jails have been set up in the state. Foreign Tablighi Jamaat members are being escorted to jails after their removal from quarantine facilities.

The Indian government came hard on Muslim religious groups after Tablighi Jamaat organized an event on March 13-15 in New Delhi attended by thousands of Muslims from within and outside the country.

On March 16, a day later, the Indian government imposed restrictions on mass gatherings and the country went into complete lockdown on March 22.

On April 18, the Health Ministry claimed that 30% of the then 14,378 cases were linked to the Jamaat.

As reports of anti-Muslim campaigns in the country surfaced, a rights body of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation called on New Delhi to stop Islamophobia.

Maulana Muhammad Saad Kandhlawi, the head of the Tablighi Jamaat India, is facing serious criminal charges for organizing the event, and is currently missing. He released a statement on Tuesday, asking Jamaat attendees to donate blood plasma.

“During this crisis, it is important to save the life of a sick person. People, who are now cured of COVID, should donate blood plasma to others who are still fighting the disease and are under treatment. It is my humble request to all Muslims to show this act of kindness,” stated Saad in his letter.

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