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State Health dept to set up biosafety level-2 laboratories

State Health dept to set up biosafety level-2 laboratories
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Kolkata: In a bid to further scale up reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) method of COVID-19 testing, the state Health department has taken up initiatives to set up biosafety level-2 laboratory in all the government-run medical colleges across the state.

Bengal government has already started RT-PCR tests in many of its medical colleges to ramp up the COVID-19 testing capacity in the state. Steps have been taken so that the other medical colleges can conduct this method of testing. The move taken by the health department is significant as the number of affected persons gradually goes up.

The spread of the pandemic can only be checked if

more number of swab testing is performed on a daily

basis.

The state government has already increased the number of sample testing manifold and the daily figure has crossed 9,000 on last Saturday and Sunday.

According to a senior health department official, it has been decided to set up a biosafety level-2 laboratory at all the medical colleges where the RT-PCR method of testing is not conducted.

Many medical colleges

have already begun RT-PCR testing. Some of the district hospitals are also carrying

out this test. RT-PCR test detects the virus' genetic material (RNA) in swabs to diagnose a current COVID-19 infection.

"There has been an attempt to start the RT-PCR tests in some of the medical colleges which are yet to start sample testing. These medical colleges need to put in place an adequate infrastructure for doing so. Steps have been taken in this regard," a health official said.

The medical colleges which are eager to start sample testing need to take permission from the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR). As per the norms laid out by the ICMR, the medical colleges should have infrastructure and expertise which include the availability of a biosafety level-2 laboratory along with a molecular biology set-up for virological diagnosis.

Following the pandemic, the ICMR had invited applications from both the government and private medical colleges to establish testing facilities.

The labs should also have a cold centrifuge for RNA extraction.

It may be mentioned here that the IPGMER & SSKM Hospital, RG Kar Medical College and Hospital and NRS Medical College and Hospital in the city have been conducting the RT-PCR testing.

The School of Tropical Medicine has also adopted the same method. Calcutta Medical College and Hospital has been following CBNAAT method while Calcutta National Medical College is carrying out TRUENAT method of

testing.

There are 5 medical colleges in the city and more than 13 medical colleges in the districts.

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