Kathmandu, Nepal, June, 23, 2020: Procurement of medical kits to contain the spreading novel coroavirus (COVID-19) smells rat of irregularities in multiple fronts. Some revelations made till now have exposed that not only wrong test kits were procured in highly inflated prices but faulty testing kits and Real-time Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) were procured taking advantage of the lockdown.
It has revealed that many of the PCR machines procured by the government authorities and the Nepal Army have become useless after they begun to give faulty and slow results. The revelation of faulty PCR machines has come at the time when the government had come under criticism for ordering unreliable Rapid Diagnostic Tests (RDT) instead of PCR.
Many laboratories across the country including at the National Public Health Laboratory, the central laboratory of the country that tests large numbers of specimens collected from many districts, have already stopped testing in some of the newly procured PCR machine after they found incompatible.
The officials at the Ministry of Health and Population have revealed preferring anonymity that most of the PCR machines imported rightly after the lockdown through the private contractor Omni Business Corporative International (OBCI) are not being used after they gave faulty and slow results.
The Department of Health Services had purchased five portable PCR machines through the controversial business form, OBCI. The government had compelled to terminate the contract with the OBCI after most of the medical equipment and testing kits procured through the company found overpriced.
The five PCR machines procured by the company from the Chinese company- Iponetic- were installed at five provincial hospitals with the aim to intensify the PCR tests. Though the government has already spent Rs12 million to purchase PCR machines from the company, these all have become useless, reveal the officials at the ministry preferring anonymity.
Though the PCR machines are not only given faulty results but not working faster as claimed in the specifications, the government has not initiated process to reimburse the amount paid earlier to procure the materials.
Not only the PCR machines procured through the OBCI but the others testing kits procured by the Nepal Army from China are also reported incompatible. Chief specialist at the Ministry of Health and Population Dr Roshan Pokhrel has already revealed that the test kits and PCR machines supplied by the Nepal Army have become useless.
It is said that PCR machines procured by the Nepal army and available at the government’s laboratories have become useless after test kits did not fit into the PCR machines. The Nepal Army had procured 28,000 PCR test kits from China and handed them over to the Health Ministry.
The short of PCR test due to the unusable machines and kits would result severe consequences in the country as number of coronavirus positive cases are spiking in the country in a daily basis.
It is said that 25,000 swab samples are in queue to be tested in different 20 government labs across Nepal. About 100000 people in quarantine and 7000 positive cases are in isolation beds waiting for another PCR tests.