The state Health Department ordered counties to ramp up coronavirus testing in nursing homes — and sent them over 1,600 damaged test kits.

The kits distributed by the embattled agency were hampered by “leaky tubes” and shoddy packaging, according to complaints described in emails obtained by The Post, as well as county leaders.

“The viral medium leaked out of [the] secured tube. So there wasn’t enough medium to do swabbing,” said Ian Coyle, the top administrator for Livingston County. “It also leaked in the bag so the gauze and swab were compromised.”

Of the 650 tests Coyle received, 291 were unusable — and the problem was far from contained to his county.

Steuben County found 206 of 760 tests damaged, Dutchess had to ditch 399 of 2,348, St. Lawrence deemed “around 300” unusable of 609 and Rennselaer had to “immediately” send back 780 kits.

“It’s frustrating especially because securing test kits is so hard, then you get these that are damaged,” said Steuben County Manager Jack Wheeler, adding that volunteer school nurses have been rearranging schedules to administer tests in the county’s nursing homes.

The blunder came to light one day after Gov. Cuomo ruled that hospital patients must test negative for COVID-19 before they can be discharged to nursing homes, curbing a widely-criticized March 25 mandate that nursing homes cannot turn away coronavirus-positive people.

Over 5,200 nursing home residents have died of confirmed or suspected cases of the coronavirus, according to the DOH.

The state argued that a “small percentage” of the 30,000 test kits shipped to 29 counties on May 7 were damaged, and that they weren’t necessarily beyond use.

“Twelve counties reported of leakage in some of the shipments, which is not uncommon and – as only 2.5ml of fluid are needed to use the test – does not automatically make them unusable,” said DOH spokesman Gary Holmes, noting that another 79,000 kits were distributed Monday.

Source: nypost.com/feed