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BSL-3 enhances Covid-19 testing capacity

By Our Correspondent Updated: Jun 09, 2020 9:04 pm

Our Correspondent
Kohima, June 9 (EMN):
The bio-safety level-3 (BSL-3) laboratory at Kohima has increased the sample testing capacity from below hundred to over 230 per day, Health officials informed on Tuesday.

“Initially, when the BSL-3 started testing Covid-19 samples on May 22, the testing capacity was around 90 samples per day. But last few days, the testing capacity has been increased to more than 230 per day,” said Dr. Vizolie Z Suokhrie, Principal Director of Health and Family Welfare.

With three reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) at BSL-3, Kohima currently, the doctor said that he is expecting the testing capacity to reach up to 450 samples a day or even more in the days to come.

Pointing out that with ‘experience comes the enhancement,’ Soukhrie stated that experience is the “most important” thing in medical profession. “The more you learn and put it into practice, the more efficient it becomes,” he said.

Despite difficulty, he said that TrueNat testing for Covid-19 facilities were made available to some of the districts in the state. From the department, the facility has been started in Mokokchung and Mon about three weeks back, he said.

He said those machines have also been successfully installed at Jalukie, Dimapur, Wokha, and Zunheboto. Installation and training of officials was also conducted on Tuesday for Phek, Kiphire, Tuensang districts, he added.

“Except for Mon, Mokokchung, Peren, which have the testing capacity of 20 samples per day, the TrueNat machine at other districts are bigger ones having more testing capacity. But later on, with experience, it can improve the testing capability,” the doctor said.

“However, TrueNat testing machines are screening tests and if it is negative, it is 100% but if it is positive, it has to be re-confirmed by the RT-PCR,” he said.

Except for Longleng district, the testing facility is now available in all the districts. The department is hoping for more machines to arrive in next few days time, which will be provided to Longleng and places which require huge number of testing facility, Suokhrie added.

It may be mentioned that all the testing done by the government facilitated machines are free of cost. He also informed that work for BSL-2 at Tuensang has already started.

The principal director also said that the department is just activating the Covid Care Centres(CCC) and would come up with the numbers of such centres in all the districts. “The reason why CCC will be activated is because if the rate of positive case continues, hospitals and beds will be exhausted.

Whereas, Covid-19 hospitals should be preserved for seriousl patients or severe symptomatic cases,” he said, while asymptomatic or mild cases can be taken it into CCC. In fact, quarantine centres can be upgrade to CCC, the only change is PPEs of the caregivers should be upgraded, he added.

Deputy Director Dr. Kikameren Longkumer said that the testing capacity is expected to increase by the end of this month with a capacity of over 800 in a day. He added that BSL-2 at Dimapur is expected to be functional by June end.

“In the meantime, if some private players comes in (TrueNat testing machines), the testing capacity would go up,” he added. The private players are also invited to come forward for testing of Covid-19. Health department was said to have written to the private sectors in this regard, but so far, nobody has come forward.

He also spoke about different types of Covid testing machines with RT-PCR as the top most, followed by a Micro-RT-PCR, which is in the form TrueNat, CBNAAT testing, antigen testing, and Elisa testing kit.

By Our Correspondent Updated: Jun 09, 2020 9:04:00 pm