Sikkim: India’s only Covid-free state gets its first testing lab
Samples from Sikkim were being sent to West Bengal for testing.Updated: Apr 30, 2020 21:12 IST
Sikkim, India’s only Covid-free state, has come up with its first laboratory to test swab samples of Covid-19 patients, top officials of the tiny Himalayan state said on Thursday.
Till date the state had to send swab samples to North Bengal Medical College and Hospital (NBMCH) in Darjeeling district of West Bengal, around 100 km away, under tight security. Around 200 samples have been tested at NBMCH so far.
“Four Truenat beta-CoV test machines have been installed in state-run STNM hospital in Gangtok. Earlier it took us at least two days to get the test result as they had to be sent to NBMCH in Siliguri. Now we will get the results in one hour,” said Mani Kumar Sharma, health minister of Sikkim.
Truenat beta-CoV test is a screening test. If tested positive, a person has to undergo an RT-PCR test for confirmation of Covid-19.
Sikkim, with a population of 6.19 lakh, shares international borders with China, Nepal and Bhutan. While the state was amongst the first to close the international borders and ban the entry of foreign and domestic tourists, it also took early decision to close two of the four border check posts with West Bengal.
“So far not a single person has tested positive for Covid 19 in the state,” said a top health official of the state.
Adjoining Kalimpong district in West Bengal has witnessed the death of a 44-year-old woman from Covid-19 on March 30 at NBMCH. In all, 11 members of her family in Kalimpong and Siliguri also tested positive. They have all been treated and discharged.
“Along with the four Truenat machines, the state has also received 1,440 testing kits. We are, however, waiting for the guidelines from the Indian Council of Medical Research for the full-scale operation of the machines,” said Pempa T Bhutia, Sikkim’s health secretary.
Meanwhile, the West Bengal government has also authorised 15 state-run hospitals to start Truenat beta tests to ramp up testing. Till date, West Bengal has tested 16,525 samples at 14 authorised testing labs. In the last 24 hours, the state conducted around 1905 tests.