Jaipur, Aug 21 (PTI) Rajasthan Health Minister Raghu Sharma on Friday said that the Centre should not waste money on rapid antigen tests for coronavirus as their results are not credible.
He said that the state government had requested for these test kits from ICMR but it did not get them. Therefore, 200 kits were taken from a private hospital and their testing was done to find out the accuracy of the results, the minister said.
Opening a debate on COVID-19 management and economic impact of lockdown in the state assembly which resumed a week after a trust vote was passed, the minister said that the accuracy level of the tests kits, manufactured by a South Korean company, was 51 per cent.
The Rajasthan Assembly on Friday witnessed uproar during the debate, leading to repeated adjournment of the proceedings.
'The antigen tests are being used in many cities, including Delhi. Although we did not get the antigen test kit from ICMR and managed tests from a private hospital, their results were not found credible. We have informed ICMR about it,' Sharma said.
'Rajasthan has been a pioneer in the prevention of COVID-19. We have done about 20 lakh RT-PCR tests,' he said, referring to the more reliable method which requires a longer waiting period.
The minister added that the rapid testing kits obtained earlier from China did not produce credible results, and the state government had informed the Centre about this. He claimed there were similar problems with the accuracy of the kits bought later from South Korea and said the Centre should not 'waste' money on them.
Highlighting the work done for strengthening medical infrastructure in Rajasthan, the minister said that the state has developed a capacity of conducting 46,000 RT-PCR tests per day in 22 districts, and 286 dedicated coronavirus care centers have been set up.
The minister said that the death rate in coronavirus cases in the state is constantly decreasing and at present it is 1.38 per cent.
'We are doing excellent in other parameters too, including the recovery rate which is more than 76 per cent. Plasma therapy for COVID-19 patients has started in Jaipur, Bikaner, Jodhpur, Kota, and Udaipur. Soon it will be started in Ajmer as well. A total of 211 critical patients have been given plasma therapy and all of them have recovered,' he said.
After the debate in which several members of the house spoke, the minister in a reply said that revenue collection had reduced drastically due to the lockdown.
He said that the country was already facing economic slowdown due to the decisions of the Centre, including demonetisation which brought down the growth rate to 5 per cent, and the spread of coronavirus worsened the situation.
Sharma said that the state has received 1,300 ventilators, of which 945 have been sent to various districts, but only 40 ventilators are currently being used. He added that 765 doctors were appointed during the lockdown period.
Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot was supposed to give a reply during the debate but he was not present at the time of the reply and the minister replied on his behalf.
Congress MLA Sachin Pilot who was sacked as deputy chief minister and PCC president last month after his rebellion against the chief minister's leadership also did not attend the house on Friday.
Prior to the reply, Leader of Opposition Gulab Chand Kataria, Deputy Leader of Opposition Rajendra Rathore and others also took part in the debate and expressed concern on the spread of the virus and problems of livelihood due to the lockdown etc.
Kataria said that the state government should adopt the antigen test, saying its report is out in 20 minutes. He said that the accuracy rate may be less but many states are using antigen tests.
Meanwhile, the assembly was adjourned thrice due to uproar over BJP MLA Kalicharan Saraf's comments regarding the arrangements for distribution of ration during the coronavirus-induced lockdown.
After the reply, the house was adjourned till 11 am on Monday.
The assembly session began on August 14 and a trust vote was passed by voice vote. After a week-long gap, the session resumed on Friday. PTI SDA AAR AAR