To ramp up testing, Gurgaon to get its first government lab

To ramp up testing, Gurgaon to get its first government lab


Gurgaon: With the number of Covid-19 cases rising and the need to ramp up testing getting more pressing by the day, the city will get its first government lab for Covid-19 tests this week.
“Gurgaon is setting up its own lab for RT-PCR tests. The health department staff has already been trained. The testing equipment will be sent from Rohtak and Hisar. In a day or two, Gurgaon will set up the lab,” a top health official said. It will be set up at the Civil Hospital in Sector 10 with an initial staff strength of 20.
Gurgaon has conducted 15,859 tests so far. The daily average right now is about 600 tests a day, which it plans on ramping up to 1,000. Which is where the new government lab comes in. All this while, Gurgaon had two testing options — the six private labs in the city or the government lab at PGIMS in Rohtak. The private labs are expensive and, intermittently, under the scanner. The Rohtak lab, being in a different city and with a backlog of samples from its own district, is overworked and results take a while to come back. At least three to four days. With a government lab within the city, both time and cost will be reduced.
This becomes all the more important at a time the city is witnessing a surge in the number of cases, adding at least 100 for the past week and a half. Gurgaon has 1,922 cases now, of which 1,467 are active.
The government lab will use the RT-PCR (reverse transcription—polymerase chain reaction) test, which has been the standard test for Covid-19 so far. The RNA of the sample is scanned for genetic material of the virus.
The other test Gurgaon has started using since May 26, a week after it was approved by the ICMR, is the home-grown TrueNat test. Originally developed to detect tuberculosis, the test was initially used for Covid-19 screening. On May 19, the ICMR allowed use of the test for confirmation as well, with an added step. The test usually looks for the E gene (found in SARS and SARS-CoV2 viruses) but will now test for the RdRp gene (found only in SARS-CoV2, which causes Covid-19) as well.
“We are conducting 15 to 20 TrueNat tests a day,” said Dr Vijay Kumar, deputy civil surgeon, Gurgaon. The battery-operated portable testing equipment is installed at the old Civil Hospital near Sadar Bazar. “It takes four to six hours to recharge. We process two samples at a time and get results in 50 minutes,” he added.
For monitoring spread, the city has gone back to rapid testing. A Korean firm based in Manesar has provided 20,000 kits to the state government, which is using the rapid testing kit for those who show influenza-like illness symptoms. The rapid test looks for antibodies in blood samples — results take about 30 minutes, hence the name. While Haryana had initiated a round of rapid tests on April 20, the ICMR had advised against the use of Chinese kits a week later. The tests have been recommended only for surveillance, not diagnosis.
The surveillance is, among other things, meant to keep track of when the state enters community transmission. Health minister Anil Vij, however, denied any community spread and said all cases reported over the past week have either had travel history or contact with someone who had tested positive earlier.
(With additional inputs
from agencies)



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