Hyderabad: A long line of slippers in front of the District Hospital in Kondapur will greet anyone who visits the hospital before 9 a.m. As the hospital has a limited number of testing kits, people turn up at 6 or 7 a.m to get tested for COVID-19.
A notice on the walls of the hospital reads 'Rapid 200 test' and 'RT-PCR 100 test'. The limit on the number of tests at government hospitals across the state is preventing many poor people from getting tested.
By 9 a.m, the owners of the footwear turn up and hurry to get the forms. By 10 a.m, the attendant informs people that the form is over. Many sulking people return back home.
Dr. Dasrath, the superintendent of the Area Hospital in Kondapur, said they have a limited number of COVID-19 kits. "We keep a few kits for emergency COVID-19 cases such as pregnant women or someone turning up with severe symptoms," he said.
COVID-19 testing has slumped in Telangana, a state that at one time had tested more than one lakh people daily for a week. On Friday, only 57,416 tests were conducted in the state.
Most of the PHCs and CHCs in the state complain about non-availability of testing kits due to which they are turning away patients. Sometimes the staff don't even open the testing facilities due to shortage of testing kits.
Meanwhile, at some testing facilities, the staff are sending back people who are not residents of the area. "At Medipally UPHC, they were testing around 100 people. But when I reached the PHC, the staff asked me where I lived and when I told them that I am from Boduppal, they said I cannot get tested at the centre. They asked me to go to a Boduppal facility to get tested. Even though I explained that Medipally PHC is closer to my house than Boduppal, they insisted on not doing the test," said Ashish a resident of Boduppal.
Testing at private centres
Though in December 2020, the government had ordered that RT-PCR tests at any private facility will cost only Rs. 500 and at home Rs. 750, many testing facilities are exploiting the order and charging more than the government-mandated amount. They are collecting money citing other charges.