Delhi

COVID-19 | Lab experiments with ‘drive-through testing’

Technicians demonstrate collection of oral samples from a mock patient in a car to test for COVID-19, in New Delhi on Monday.

Technicians demonstrate collection of oral samples from a mock patient in a car to test for COVID-19, in New Delhi on Monday.  

Facility is at Punjabi Bagh; people can register for test online

The sole sign of activity in Punjabi Bagh’s Central Market on Monday was at the collection centre of Dr. Dangs Laboratory (DDL), which is among the few Indian Council of Medical Research-approved laboratories authorised to test for COVID-19.

On Monday, the company experimented with a new service: drive-through testing. After paying a fee of ₹4,500, a person can be screened for COVID-19 while still sitting in the car. The results are ready in a day.

Arjun Dang, a pathologist and chief executive officer of DDL, told The Hindu that a few a patients were screened in the morning. The identities of the patients were withheld to protect privacy.

Unlike in South Korea, which pioneered drive-through testing as part of its mission to test a large pool of patients who had flu-like symptoms, DDL’s service is for people who are apprehensive of being screened at their homes as it may invite unwarranted attention from neighbours. Many people also fear that laboratory personnel entering their house may bring in the infection despite being donned in protective gear.

For the media demonstration on Monday, a mock patient drove his car to the rear of the lab’s collection centre.

A person can register for the test online by uploading a government ID and the doctor’s prescription.

The patient will also have to share the vehicle number in which he intends to reach the lab.

Traffic cones connected with a metal chain regulated the entry of cars to the designated testing spot — a white rectangle chalked out on the road. A booth located next to the spot was manned by a lab personnel clad in full protective gear.

The process

The staff gestured the driver to roll down the window — only the two windows on the right are allowed to be rolled down depending on where the patient is seated.

A long probe is inserted into the nose of the patients and the contents are sealed. Another swab is collected from the throat and separately sealed. The patient then drives away. The process takes 8-9 minutes.

Every half hour, the samples are taken to the DDL’s testing lab at Aurobindo Marg. The samples are analysed by the RT-realtime polymerase chain reaction method and the results are mailed within a day.

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Printable version | Jul 15, 2020 12:57:04 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Delhi/lab-experiments-with-drive-through-testing/article31274924.ece

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