Gurugram to use TrueNat tests before discharging Covid-19 patientsUpdated: May 22, 2020 23:14 IST
The district health department is likely to start using TrueNat tests from Monday at the old civil hospital for conducting confirmatory tests on Covid-19 patients before discharging them from hospitals.
TrueNat— a diagnostic machine used for testing drug-resistant tuberculosis— has recently been validated by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) for confirmatory detection of the Sars-Cov-2 virus (which causes the coronavirus disease) to boost testing capacities.
On April 10, ICMR had approved the use of TrueNat for screening purposes only. The guidelines were revised on May 21 with ICMR recommending it as a screening as well as a confirmatory test for the coronavirus disease (Covid-19).
“TrueNat is as effective as Reverse Transcription – Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) test— a laboratory method used for detecting coronavirus,” said Dr Vijay Kumar, district tuberculosis officer.
“The TrueNat is a diagnostic tool, which involves two-step step process —E gene screening assay for the suspected Covid-19 samples followed by a confirmatory assay of RdRp gene. As per the ICMR guidelines, if the E gene screening is negative, the sample will be considered as true negative. But if the sample is positive, the RdRp assay will be done, which will serve as a confirmatory test. If the sample tests positive, it will be considered as true positive and an RT-PCR test will not be required furhter,” said Dr Kumar.
Dr Kumar said the turnaround time for a single test is around 40 minutes. “Two samples can be processed at a time. Initially, we would test 35 samples a day,” he said. As many as eight lab technicians will be trained on Saturday by a team appointed by the central government to conduct TrueNat tests, he added.
Dr Jaswant Singh Punia, district chief medical officer (CMO), said, “The TueNat test will be primarily used as a confirmatory test before discharging a patient. It will save time and reduce the burden on the state lab. Also, high-risk contacts need to be tested immediately and we will use TrueNat tests then. For fresh suspected cases, we will continue to send samples for RT-PCR tests to Post Graduate Institute of Medical Sciences (PGIMS) in Rohtak”
According to Dr Kumar, the TrueNat machine— provided by the state government— will be installed at the district tuberculosis centre in the old Civil Hospital near Bus Stand Road where tuberculosis tests are being already conducted. “In case there is any technical issue, the machine will be installed at the Primary Health Centre in Wazirabad,” he said adding that ICMR allows TrueNat Covid-19 testing in district hospitals and at the primary health centre level.
The TrueNat machine is portable and runs on battery and consists of an inbuilt device that extracts RNA extraction, officials added. Like RT-PCR tests, throat and nasal swabs will be collected for TrueNat testing.
Since February the RT-PCR has been used to test more than 11,000 samples in Gurugram. Initially, the samples were sent to All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in Delhi, but were later sent to PGIMS, Rohtak and Bhagat Phool Singh Government Medical College, Sonepat.