Kochi

Medical college gets new virology lab

Close at hand: The laboratory for testing samples for COVID-19 was set up at Government Medical College Hospital, Ernakulam, at a cost of ₹1.25 crore.

Close at hand: The laboratory for testing samples for COVID-19 was set up at Government Medical College Hospital, Ernakulam, at a cost of ₹1.25 crore.   | Photo Credit: Thulasi Kakkat

Test results will now be available within hours; new lab can examine up to 180 samples a day

A diagnostic facility for polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test to identify the virus causing COVID-19 was opened at Government Medical College, Ernakulam, on Thursday.

Interestingly, the real-time reverse transcriptase PCR test will provide results in two-and-a-half hours.

The facility was a top priority at the medical college hospital as the samples collected in the district used to be sent to the National Institute of Virology, Alappuzha, and later to the Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Biotechnology, Thiruvananthapuram, to lessen the load on one institute. Also, the load of COVID-19 testing is more in Ernakulam thanks to the international airport which has major entry and exit points. Besides, the district lagged behind in getting test results quickly as the results of samples sent to Alappuzha or Thiruvananthapurm came only the next day.

Up to 180 samples can be tested at the new laboratory a day with two PCR machines. The lab was set up at a cost of ₹1.25 crore. Dr. J. Lancy, head of the department of microbiology at the medical college and the laboratory in-charge, is among those who got special training during the Nipah viral outbreak. Dr. Jona, Dr. Indu, technicians Vipin Das, Afri, Anju Sebastian, and Archana will be part of the team conducting tests at the facility.

The laboratory has also secured permission from the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) to conduct tests for other viruses too.

The asset development funds of P.T. Thomas, MLA (₹27.57 lakh), and the local area development fund of Hibi Eden, MP (₹36 lakh), were utilised to ensure bio-safety parameters for laboratory cabinets and to procure test kits. Kerala Medical Services Corporation Ltd. provided equipment for the laboratory, while the Public Works Department (PWD) built the infrastructure.

Two vacant rooms in the microbiology laboratory complex were converted into a five-room modern facility to house the new laboratory.

Samples will be collected and results printed in the reception area. Samples will be processed in various stages, including RNA extraction, and they will then go into a master mixer room and later for processing for real-time PCR that gives the test result.

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Printable version | Jul 7, 2020 4:36:13 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Kochi/medical-college-gets-new-virology-lab/article31360689.ece

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