Mumbai’s JJ Hospital to soon test 2.2K samples for Covid-19, highest in India
Maharashtra has already increased its testing capacity to over 10,000 per day. So far, the state has 48 laboratories, including 29 in government set-ups and the 19 laboratories run by private companies. After Monday’s meeting, the lab strength went up to 50, as two more government labs have been added.Updated: Apr 28, 2020, 09:44 IST
The laboratory at Mumbai’s Sir JJ Hospital will soon be able to test 2,200 samples every day, making it the largest testing facility in India. The upgrade will take the daily testing capacity to over 12,000 in the state, the highest in the country.
Currently, JJ Hospital is testing 100 samples every day and the capacity will be upgraded by the end of the month. The testing capacity of the elite National Institute of Virology (NIV), Pune is 800 samples daily. The other two government-run hospitals – GT and St George – have already been turned into Covid hospitals.
“We are setting up a mega RT-PCR laboratory at JJ hospital to conduct more tests. In the first phase, within 2-3 days, the lab will be upgraded to test 1,000 samples,” said an official of Medical Education and Drugs Department (MEDD).
The MEDD held a meeting on Monday evening. An official who was part of the meeting said, “The kits required to push the capacity to 2,200 are not available in India. We have sent a request to the ICMR who will procure it for us. So, it will take 15 days to upgrade the lab to mega lab.”
Sars-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, is highly infectious and since it a new virus, there is no cure, vaccine, or widespread immunity to it. Finding the infected and isolating them until they can no longer spread the disease is the only way to contain the spread.
Maharashtra has already increased its testing capacity to over 10,000 per day. So far, the state has 48 laboratories, including 29 in government set-ups and the 19 laboratories run by private companies. After Monday’s meeting, the lab strength went up to 50, as two more government labs have been added.
Maharashtra has become the first state in India to get permission from ICMR to run 50 labs, followed by Tamil Nadu with 30 testing labs. “South Korea was widely praised for running 10,000 tests every day. [At present, the country is conducting 20,000 tests]. Now, with the addition of the new upgrade, we will be able to touch the mark, but we are in the process to add more labs,” he said. “We are the only state in India which has tested over 1 lakh people since the outbreak,” he added.
The state is focusing on PCR tests which directly detect the presence of an antigen, rather than antibodies. The process detects the virus RNA which develops in the body before the formation of antibodies or development of symptoms of the disease. It helps in early detection of the presence of virus in the body.
The waiting period for permission, too, has become shorter as the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Nagpur is now an approving agency. All scrutiny for validation is being carried out either by NIV or AIIMS, Nagpur. “Since reporting the first positive case in the state (March 7), we have added one lab almost every day in the state to do as many tests as possible,” he said.