AS PART of efforts to ramp up COVID-19 testing in Chandigarh, a red zone area where more than a 100 patients have already tested positive, the UT admininstration has started sending samples to the Institute of Microbial Technology (IMTECH), which has a bio safety level 3 lab that can test around 500 samples a day now. Government testing laboratories in the UT, including IMTECH and the Government Medical College and Hospital (GMCH) in Sector 32 have also begun pool testing on days that they receive a large number of samples.
Health Secretary Arun Kumar Gupta said, they began sending samples to IMTECH Saturday. The IMTECH laboratory began testing samples in the first week of April, and since then it has increased testing capacity to between 500 and 700 tests a day. It mostly receives samples from the tri-city and the neighboring states of Punjab and Haryana. According to an IMTECH spokesperson, more than a 1,000 tests have been conducted in IMTECH as of Monday night. “We use to receive about 30-40 samples in the beginning and in the last week or so started receiving over100 samples a day. We also conducted pool testing as per ICMR,” said the spokesperson.
According to ICMR guidelines, pooling of tests should be conducted in places with positivity rates of less than 5 per cent only and preferably five samples should be pooled at a time. Pool testing is a useful surveillance tool in place of the rapid antibody tests, which have been deemed as inaccurate and unreliable by the Centre. “We began pool tests after receiving samples at full capacity since the outbreak at Bapu Dham,” said a doctor at GMCH-32.
After Bapu Dham Colony and Sector 30 B cropped up as hotspots, and the number of cases rose, the hospital received samples beyond its capacity and began pooling samples and testing them in batches of five.
UT’s testing capacity
In total, GMCH 32 and PGI can test 300 samples a day if tested individually. However, the UT can ramp up testing by sending samples to IMTECH, which it has began doing. When samples sent to IMTECH exceed capacity, samples can also be sent to PU and IISER, increasing the capacity by 200.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines