COVID-19: Rapid test kits from China meant for Tamil Nadu diverted to US

COVID-19: Rapid test kits from China meant for Tamil Nadu diverted to US

CHENNAI: A batch of 50,000 rapid test kits that Tamil Nadu had ordered from China, has been diverted to the United States, Chief Secretary K Shanmugam revealed on Saturday.

As only a few Chinese companies are producing these test kits, there’s massive demand in the global market. The consignment that left for the US was actually supposed to reach Tamil Nadu on Thursday. 

Officials are hoping that at least the next consignment would make it to India. Public health experts say rapid test kids are crucial in testing large clusters.

“It is the second-best thing after PCR tests,” says infectious diseases expert T Jacob John.

“This is like additional proof, and that’s how it’s mainly used.”    

John, however, says IGG tests are as important as rapid ones.

“IGG would certify if the patient has become immune to the virus. This would help hospitals make easy decision on discharge. The most important thing is that IGG test kits arrive before the lockdown is lifted.”

Doctor Ram Gopalkrishnan of Apollo Hospitals says rapid tests are important for checks in hotspots. 

“There could be carriers who are asymptomatic, some with minimal symptoms. Blood test is the best way to identify these people. If kits are delayed, efforts to test them are also delayed,” says Gopalkrishnan.

This means that before the situation can get out of control, rapid testing kits have to be sourced for damage control.

The Chief Secretary, however, has assured that the State government’s procurement team is efficient and will get the job done.

According to the health bulletin, 51,996 people are under active home quarantine while 165 are in government hospitals. 49,963 people have completed the quarantine period of 28 days.

Out of the 58 cases on Saturday, four had inter-state travel history while the rest were contacts of people already infected.

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