Hyderabad: The King Koti hospital, on 21 July, resumed conducting RTPCR (reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction) tests for suspected COVID-19 patients in the city.

The government hospital was the first in the city to start RTPCR tests on 22nd March when the pandemic hit. However, from 10th July the hospital had switched to rapid antigen testing (RAT) for quicker results.

“The state government asked us to conduct rapid antigen tests from 10 July and till yesterday we had been doing the same,” Dr. Mallikarjun, the resident medical officer at the hospital, said.

The doctor added that while RTPCR was restarted because all available rapid antigen test-kits were consumed, but also because it was testing negative a particular category of suspected patients.

“While RAT is good at providing information about who the patient has come in contact with, we found that it gave negative results for patients with lower respiratory infections,” he said.

Most of the patients at King Koti’s in-patient ward have lower respiratory infections and so conducting two tests to confirm the virus was inconveniencing the hospital staff. “RAT is good for mass testing, particularly to trace the primary contacts of patients. But when a patient is showing typical symptoms of COVID-19, RTPCR is definitely much better,” the doctor added.

Officials at the hospital also said they have not received any communication from the government on when the rapid antigen test kits will be restocked.

The hospital is currently testing 200 to 250 patients by collecting swabs in the premises of its new building. “We may conduct RAT for out-patients who are contacts of a positive patient once we get the kits,” the doctor further added.

Priyali Dhingra

Priyali Dhingra is a post graduate in Communication Studies from Hyderabad Central University. She has previously worked as a photojournalist, editorial, and graphic design intern in The Indian Express, Newslaundry, and NDTV. Reigning from Delhi, she has an avid interest in photojournalism, and all things visual. She has also represented India as a delegate in the JENESYS 2019 Student Exchange Program with the Government of Japan. Having pursued her graduation in history from Delhi University, she was also a part of her college's theatre society. Her primary interests include: photography, poetry & politics.

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