NIMHANS to start testing COVID-19 samples from Saturday

The NIMHANS lab has a capacity to test 96 samples a day.   | Photo Credit: File Photo

Following approval from the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), the BSL-3 laboratory at the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS) will start testing COVID-19 samples from Saturday. With this, four government-approved labs in the city — NIV unit at Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Chest Diseases (RGICD), and the VRDL labs at the Bangalore Medical College and Research Institute, Command Hospital, and NIMHANS — will test COVID-19 samples for free. This apart, two private labs — Neuberg Anand Diagnostic Laboratory and Cancyte Technologies Pvt. Ltd. — are also authorised to conduct the test.


V. Ravi, senior professor and head of neurovirology at NIMHANS, said the approval was accorded after NIMHANS took up trials and sent the reports to the ICMR on Friday. “The ICMR sent us the reagents on Thursday and will provide us more as and when required,” he said.

Pointing out that NIMHANS lab has a capacity to test 96 samples a day, Dr. Ravi said, “We have a cut-off timing of 1 p.m. and any samples that come to us after that will be tested the next day,” he said.

To prevent indiscriminate flow of samples for testing, the ICMR has made it mandatory that the treating physician, who suspects the infection in a patient, should fill a form and send it to knlabcovid19@gmail.com round the clock.

“The State Surveillance Officers will approve the request and allot a unique ID number to each approved case. Following the approval, the physician has to fill out another lab/test request form, collect the sample, and send the swab for testing to any of the COVID-19 testing laboratories. If the sample request is rejected, the State Surveillance Officers will send the reasons for rejection and the clinician can request for reconsideration and approval,” he said.

So far, 4,587 samples have been tested in the State in various labs and 4,281 have tested negative.

While laboratories at the Hassan Institute of Medical Sciences, Mysuru Medical College and Research Institute, Shivamogga Institute of Medical Sciences, and Gulbarga Institute of Medical Sciences are already testing in the State, the process of approval for more laboratories in Hubbali, Ballari, and Mangaluru is under way. “I was assigned the task of assessing these labs and I sent my recommendation to the ICMR today [Friday],” Dr. Ravi said.

C.N. Manjunath, director of Sri Jayadeva Institute of Cardiovascular Sciences and Research and the nodal officer for Lab Testing in the State’s COVID-19 task force, said the State’s order for one lakh antibody test strips was likely to arrive on April 12.

For the State government, over 1.2 lakh passengers who arrived on international flights in Karnataka between January 20 and March 23 and their primary contacts comprise the pool vulnerable to COVID-19. Its strategy is focused on this group, which includes about 37,358 people who are under observation.

“The estimation now is to test at least 80,000 samples in Karnataka in the next three weeks. We will train personnel in using these test strips in all the fever clinics and other hospitals and there is no need of ICMR approval for that. After the preliminary screening, the confirmatory tests can be taken up in the ICMR-approved labs,” he added.

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Printable version | Jul 26, 2021 7:56:28 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/nimhans-to-start-testing-covid-19-samples-from-saturday/article31252261.ece

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