Tamil Nadu

Looking beyond just a testing milestone

A health worker in a protective chamber collects samples for a swab test, in Chennai. File

A health worker in a protective chamber collects samples for a swab test, in Chennai. File   | Photo Credit: B. Jothi Ramalingam

As Tamil Nadu notched up its first million COVID-19 tests, the first to reach the milestone in the country, data on the number of tests being done in its different labs — 47 in the government sector and 42 in the private sector — have been made available.

As expected, government institutions in Chennai have done the maximum number of tests in the State. They were early birds, and until the first week of May, were testing samples even from other districts. As more labs were authorised in the districts, these labs were able to take on more testing in Chennai. Chennai’s index lab — the King’s Institute of Preventive Medicine, in Guindy — has tested the largest number of samples, 1,24,046. The city also houses the largest number of labs (32) authorised to test, listed on a document dated June 26.

“It is definitely a very important contribution, in terms of a milestone,” said K. Kolandaiswamy, former director of public health. He credited the recent public health history of Tamil Nadu for the achievement. “Since the swine flu experience, we have consciously worked on building testing capacity in Tamil Nadu and putting in place quality control mechanisms. With the dengue epidemic, we were further forced to upgrade the capacity of labs, and we even had tie ups with the CDC, and even labs in Singapore, to learn how to do things well. The overall thrust on labs and testing helped us here for sure,” he said.

Further, with reference to this particular pandemic, several institutes, including universities, fisheries and agriculture institutions, pitched in with RT-PCR machines, which helped enhance the State’s capacity during the course of the pandemic.