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Maharashtra: Testing for COVID-19 samples to start at IRSHA lab

So far in Pune, apart from the National Institute of Virology, which is the apex Indian Council of Medical Research laboratory, the B J Medical college (BJMC) and Armed Forces Medical College can start conducting tests.

Written by Anuradha Mascarenhas | Pune | Published: March 23, 2020 6:17:04 am
coronavirus, coronavirus outbreak, coornavirus infection, coornavirus in mumbai, coronavirus testing in mumbai, coronavirus news, indian express news While Dr Sanjay Lalwani, medical director, said samples of two doctors and two nurses had tested negative for coronavirus. (Representational Photo)

DR A C Mishra, director at the Interactive Research School for Health Affairs (IRSHA) at Bharati Vidyapeeth Deemed University, said the lab will soon start testing samples for coronavirus. Mishra, who was the former director of National Institute of Virology, added, “How long is it possible for government laboratories to test and authorities should even consider laboratories with good bio-safety facilities to start testing for coronavirus.”

At Bharati Hospital and Research Centre, run by the Bharati Vidyapeeth Medical Foundation and Bharati Vidyapeeth Deemed University Medical College, coronavirus had been detected in a 41-year-old anganwadi worker who has been admitted to the ICU.

While Dr Sanjay Lalwani, medical director, said samples of two doctors and two nurses had tested negative for coronavirus, the woman had many contacts who were being traced. There is not just a need for more samples but also for personal protective equipment, Lalwani told The Indian Express.

Meanwhile, Dr Mishra, who was involved in the epidemiology and control planning of vector borne diseases, influenza, chandipura viruses and establishment of high containment laboratories BSL 3 and BSL 4 during his tenure as NIV director, now heads the Interactive Research School for Health Affairs (IRSHA) at Bharati Vidyapeeth Deemed to be University.

“This is a non-influenza pandemic,” said Mishra, adding, “COVID-19 is not influenza although it behaves in some ways like influenza. This virus does not belong to the influenza family and infectivity is very high. When intense transmission occurs, large numbers of people can get infected. He said mild cases can result in symptoms like cough and mild fever. In severe cases, it results in life threatening pneumonia that can be fatal in the elderly, immuno-compromised people and individuals with underlying medical conditions.

“ We will be starting tests soon at our laboratory. There are three PCR machines and we have procured the reagents and test kits that include primers and probes. These are manufactured by commercial companies. One can buy them separately. At least 200 samples can be tested,” Mishra said.

Tracing contacts of a coronavirus patient is a good precautionary measure but there are often cases where people who are in close connect cannot recall all their contacts.

“In such a crisis situation, testing samples in the private sector should have started much earlier,” he said. “While the government has the capacity to test for samples with increasing numbers, standardised labs at scientific institutions and even university laboratories, where bio-safety facilities are in place to ensure samples are not mishandled, should be allowed to step up testing of samples,” Mishra said.

So far in Pune, apart from the National Institute of Virology, which is the apex Indian Council of Medical Research laboratory, the B J Medical college (BJMC) and Armed Forces Medical College can start conducting tests. At BJMC’s microbiology department, authorities said they have procured the kits from NIV and have checked five samples sent from Naidu hospital.

The ICMR has also announced that testing would be permitted at Thyrocare Mumbai, Suburban Diagnostics Mumbai, Metropolis Healthcare Ltd Mumbai and Sir H N Reliance Foundation Hospital and Research Centre, Mumbai

Yet to enter stage 3 of community transmission: State Helath Minister

State Health Minister Rajesh Tope said several measures have been taken to prevent community transmission of coronavirus. Of the 10 new cases detected, four are from Pune, five from Mumbai and one from Navi Mumbai. While the number of people with COVID-19 has climbed to 74, Tope said we are in stage 2 of transmission. “In most cases, 50 per cent people have contracted coronavirus after returning from international trips and the remaining are their close contacts,” Tope said, adding that India is still in stage 2 of transmission of coronavirus.

In Pune, there are 27 people with coronavirus – 15 in the city and 12 in Pimpri-Chinchwad, 24 in Mumbai and four each in Nagpur, Navi Mumbai, Kalyan and Yavatmal. There are two persons in Ahmednagar and one each in Panvel, Thane, Ulhasnagar, Aurangabad and Ratnagiri.

A total of 7,452 people across the state are under home quarantine, Pradeep Awate, state surveillance officer told The Indian Express. From January 18 till date, 1,876 eople have been kept under quarantine at different hospitals. A total of 1,592 samples have been tested so far of which 74 are positive with COVID-19.

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