State health minister Rajesh Tope on Wednesday announced that suspected samples for coronavirus disease (COVID-19) will be tested at eight government laboratories and medical colleges. As per WHO guidelines and government advisories, private laboratories will also be allowed to start testing samples for COVID-19. “However, they will require permission from Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and will have to do so at their cost,” Tope said. “So far, we have proposals for SRL and Ranbaxy, among other laboratories,” the state health minister told The Indian Express.
With a total of 45 persons with COVID-19 across the state and demand for sample testing growing, Tope held a closed door meeting with a team of virologists at National Institute of Virology (NIV), officials of BJ Medical College and state and civic health officials.
He also took stock of the preparedness level in the city and visited Naidu Hospital, where eight coronavirus patients and another 22 suspected cases are admitted.
“Pune’s BJ Medical College will start checking samples and provide confirmatory tests,” Tope said, adding that permissions had been obtained for KEM hospital in Mumbai.
“In addition to the existing facility for testing samples at Kasturba hospital, another one will also be rolled out from tomorrow,” Tope said.
Arrangements are also being made to set up two more testing facilities with ICMR-NIV unit at the Haffkine institute premises at Mumbai.
While these will be started soon, another four are being planned at government medical college laboratories at Aurangabad, Dhule, Miraj and Solapur. Each facility will be able to test samples in the range of 180 to 250 daily.
Testing facilities will be started in a big way and the labs will get kits and reagents from the NIV, Tope said, as he visited the influenza centre at NIV and interacted with director Dr Priya Abraham and scientist Dr Varsha Potdar.
Dr Ajay Chandanwale, Dean of BJ Medical College and Sassoon General Hospital, said they were ready to start testing from Thursday and were waiting for the primers from NIV.
According to Tope, 10 lakh kits were being procured by the Centre.
“We are following guidelines from the Centre on who should be tested,” Tope said. According to Dr Archana Patil, state health director, as of now, anti-HIV drugs is being administered as treatment only to three persons – two in Mumbai and one in Aurangabad.
Special praise for NIV, Naidu hospital teams
The state health minister had special words of praise for the entire team at NIV and Naidu hospital. The teams are doing tremendous work here 24×7 and they need to be applauded, Tope said.
The team at NIV has been consistently and patiently guiding laboratories on how to test samples and on a daily basis can test more than 400, Tope said.
The doctors and nurses at Naidu hospital also deserve special mention and the Pune pattern should be replicated across the state, Tope said.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines