Health Minister Bhanubhakta Dhakal has failed to meet his commitment to do 10,000 PCR tests a day from June 29.
The Health Ministry had planned to expand testing to 10,000 a day by boosting capacity of laboratories, bringing in additional PCR machines and using private laboratories but just 4,606 results arrived on Sunday.
It has yet to mobilize even private laboratories despite talks of bringing in PCR machines in 10 more hospitals. "There has been no monitoring until now. We are ready to do tests," promoter of a private lab and public health expert Sameer Mani Dixit said.
The ministry delayed issuing standards for private laboratories, and the latter are reluctant to start testing even after the standards were issued stating that Rs 5,500 that the government has offered to pay for each test is low.
"I wish to ask the government why it has set such a low rate. Does it want us to test with cheap and substandard kits? Credibility of tests will fall if it is so," Dixit opined.
The government while issuing the standards at first had said private laboratories should have three PCR machines for eligibility even as no government laboratory apart from the National Public Health Laboratory in Teku has three. It had later corrected the standards and said even those with just one machine would qualify.
The 23 laboratories across the country are currently doing around 4,000 tests a day with the highest one-day record of 7,000.
The ministry now claims that it is not necessary to do 10,000 tests a day. "Just 60,000 persons are quarantined now. So, daily tests of 7,000 would suffice," Ministry Spokesperson Dr Jageshwore Gautam argued.
The ministry website shows 65,000 persons are in quarantine and most of them are those returning from India.
Gautam argued that 10,000 tests a day should be done for only 10 days at most even if that were necessary.