Punjab is set to ramp up COVID-19 testing as four government laboratories will start functioning in the coming week. On Friday, the four laboratories obtained the trial samples from ICMR for corroborative testing to get approval from the ICMR.
Baba Farid University of Health Sciences (BFUHS) Vice-Chancellor Dr Raj Bahadur said the trial samples included samples of two positive cases, two negative cases and one control case.
Dr Bahadur said that officials from the four laboratories collected samples from ICMR facility in Chandigarh on Friday. While ICMR knew the status of each sample, it was not revealed to the officials who collected the samples, as a standard operating procedure. “Now the tests would be conducted and if the results conform to the results already known to ICMR where they have given samples of two positive and negative cases each, the laboratories would be given the go-ahead to start testing. After approval from ICMR, we will start conducting tests,” Dr Bahadur told The Indian Express.
The laboratories have been set up at Regional Disease Diagnostic Laboratory, Jalandhar; Guru Angad Dev Veterinary and Animal Sciences University (GADVASU), Ludhiana; Punjab Biotechnology Incubator, Mohali; and Punjab Forensic Science Laboratory, Mohali.
Punjab Medical Education and Research Department secretary D K Tiwari said with the setting up of four laboratories, Punjab had become “first state in the country” where apart from Departments of Health and Medical Education and Research, the facilities of state’s Home Department (Forensic Science Laboratory at Mohali), Animal Husbandry Department (Regional Disease Diagnostic Laboratory, Jalandhar, and Guru Angad Dev Veterinary and Animal Sciences University [GADVASU], Ludhiana) and Science and Technology Department (Punjab Biotechnology Incubator, Mohali) would be put to use for viral testing of COVID-19.
Each of the four laboratories is equipped with 16 pieces of equipment which include refrigerated centrifuge, fully automated biosafety cabinet, real time PCR and spectrometer. The paraphernilia cost Rs 1 crore for each laboratory. A total of 83 officials, which include microbiologists, research assistants, medical laboratory technicians, data entry operators and other ancillary staff, have been appointed in the four laboratories.
Each laboratory is expected to test 1,000 samples a day. The three government medical colleges in the state test 9,000 to 10,000 samples a day collectively. The testing capacity in the government facilities per day is set to reach between 13,000 and 14,000 when the four laboratories become functional next week.
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