Hyderabad: For the first time in the medical history of Telangana, within a span of five months between January and May, the health officials have started nine government laboratories that are capable of conducting highly technical Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test for diagnosis of SARS-CoV-2.
Before January, Telangana did not have a single high-end virology laboratory that could conduct a PCR test. In fact, Hyderabad, despite being the first Indian city to report swine flu (H1N1) way back in 2009, did not have a virology laboratory of its own or for that matter trained manpower to conduct such complicated tests.
For a long time, there was a demand to establish high-end virology laboratory aimed at identifying and isolating such new viruses. Till last year, swab samples of H1N1 suspects used to get transported to NIV, Pune, for testing and the results were released after a delay of 24 hours to 48 hours.
In the last few years, high-end laboratories were set up at Fever Hospital, Institute of Preventive Medicine (IPM), Narayanguda and Gandhi Hospital. However, all these facilities were bogged down by lack of trained personnel, as conducting such diagnostic tests are highly technical and needs a lot of capacity building.
Given the Covid-19 pandemic, government laboratories now have enough trained manpower and infrastructure to conduct at least 2,000 PCR-based diagnostic tests which are widely considered as gold standard tests for detection of Covid-19. The health officials took the help of Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) researchers who conducted a series of training sessions to equip lab technicians and healthcare workers from Telangana with knowledge on conducting the coronavirus diagnostic tests in high-end laboratories.
The researchers at CCMB have trained over 25 doctors, technical staff and students from these State-run healthcare institutions. The CCMB also created training videos on best practices for handling patient samples and on conducting tests on PCR, for the benefit of interested microbiologists and doctors.
Nationally, till January, the NIV, Pune, laboratory was the only facility with Covid-19 diagnosis. However, within the next few months, the ICMR managed to expand and set-up 555 laboratories across the country. As many as 12 private laboratories have also received permission from the regulatory authorities to start offering Covid diagnostics in Hyderabad.
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