By Ajita Rijal
Kathmandu, Apr. 2: The government has scrapped a controversial procurement contract with Omni Group which had imported medical equipment meant for the treatment of coronavirus.
Mahendra Prasad Shrestha, Director General at the Department of Health Services under the Ministry of Health and Population (MoHP), said that the deal with Omni Group had been scrapped.
Speaking at the regular media briefing on Wednesday, Shrestha said that the decision was made as the company was not able to supply the materials as per the agreement.
He said that a new tender notice would be published Thursday for the procurement of the materials and the chance would be given to the lowest bidding company.
The ministry had granted the tender to Omni Business Corporate International on March 26 for purchasing medical equipment necessary to combat the COVID-19.
The company’s Rs 50 million worth of security deposit has been seized with the cancellation of the contract.
Omni Group was awarded the contract to import the protective gears, including masks, virus test kits, PPEs and other medical logistics from China.
PCR machine at all states
The government has completed the installation of the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) machines for the coronavirus test in all seven states. On the occasion, Dr Bikash Devkota, spokesperson at MoHP, said that the BP Koirala Institute of Health Sciences (BPKIHS) in Dharan was testing 12 samples of COVID-19.
Likewise, in Pokhara the swab test of three coronavirus suspected persons were carried out and two were found negative for COVID-19. The result of another was awaited.
“State 2 is beginning the test at Janakpur, Sudurpaschim State at Dhangadhi, Karnali State at Surkhet and State 5 at Butwal by today itself,” said Dr Devkota.
All the medical accessories with portal PCR machines had been taken to respective places. The Ministry of Health and Population has already mobilised the necessary human resources for the operation of the laboratory. According to the ministry, 1,133 specimens of the coronavirus suspects were tested as of Wednesday afternoon. He informed that 89 coronavirus suspects were admitted at the isolation wards in different hospitals.
Rapid test kits to be used
in massive outbreak
Health expert at the MoHP Dr Khem Karki said that health institutions were not asked to use Rapid Diagnostic Kits to test the coronavirus.
“We need the proper assessment to use the kits as they do not meet the standard of the World Health Organisation (WHO),” said Karki.
“We are uncertain about the quality after receiving information that the imported COVID-19 test kits may give wrong results,” said Karki.
He also said that such kits are found to be controversial and unreliable in many countries. Last week, Spain returned millions of Chinese test kits stating that they were not reliable. Nepal has been using the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) method to test the COVID-19.
The ministry has already asked the Nepal Health Research Council for assessment of those kits. “Though we are not at a stage of epidemic right now, in case the virus spreads PCR alone will not suffice. So, the rapid test kits had been purchased only for using in case of a massive outbreak,” said Karki.