Representational picture
Representational picture

BHOPAL: The state-level Virology Lab of Gandhi Medical College (GMC) was constructed at a cost of Rs23 crore in January 2019 and the health department had made tall claims that it was the biggest in the country for testing the viruses of Hepatitis-A, C, E, dengue, chikangunia, herpes, rubella, texoplasma, rotavirus and so forth. But, now, its condition is such that it does not have the facility of testing Britain’s new strain of Covid-19 virus. For this reason, samples are being sent to Delhi, or Pune and it takes three to four days for the results to come in case of Britain’s new mutant Covid virus.

The lab was set up in January 2019 at the city’s Gandhi Medical College (GMC) amid a rise in cases of Swine Flu across the country. Earlier, testing for Swine Flu was done in the virology lab in Delhi. The health department had also planned to set up virology laboratories in Gwalior, Indore, Rewa and Sagar in the second phase.

Two advanced labs

There are two advanced labs — the National Institute of Virology, Pune, and the National Centre for Disease Control, Delhi. Testing of Britain’s new mutant virus infection is based on genome, so the facilities are not available in all the virology labs in the country.

But doctors working at Hamidia Hospital and Gandhi Medical College said that, if machines were made available, testing of Britain’s new mutant virus would be done in Bhopal, which would cover the entire state. They feel that there must be facilities at the GMC Virology Lab for speedy testing to cover entire Madhya Pradesh, or else, it would take three to four days for the results to come.

‘Upgrade is a must’

"GMC Virology Lab is of bio-safety level (BSL-2), which is not well-equipped for genome-based testing. Right now, there are only two labs — NIV, Pune, and NCD, New Delhi — which are conducting testing on Britain’s new mutant strain. GMC Virology Lab will have to upgrade with new machines and other supporting infrastructure for such testing," said Dr Aruna Kumar, GMC dean.

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Free Press Journal