Anticipating an increase in the number of patients who will require testing for coronavirus, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation has written to the state government, seeking permission to start testing at the King Edward Memorial (KEM) hospital. Civic officials said once they get the green signal, they will immediately procure testing kits from the National Institute of Virology (NIV) to hand over to KEM hospital.
The move comes after the number of suspected virus cases have increased at the civic-run Kasturba Hospital and they can do 30 tests on a daily basis. First, preliminary tests are carried out and then a second round of confirmatory tests. If a patient tests negative for two tests in 24 hours, they are discharged. If their confirmatory test is positive, the samples are sent to the NIV for reconfirmation. Those patients discharged after testing negative for COVID-19 are kept under telephonic observation for the next 14 days.
“The main aim to start coronavirus testing at KEM hospitals is to increase the number of samples tested. Daily, we are run 30-35 samples, which have to be tested twice in a gap of 24 hours, forcing patients to wait for two-three days until their results are out,” said a doctor from Kasturba Hospital.
Currently, there are six technicians working in two eight-hour shifts to test samples round the clock. More skilled personnel are needed, for which the laboratory has borrowed technicians from the regional HIV reference lab. And, the laboratory has one scientific officer, three technicians, a research scientist, and an assistant scientist. They are prepping to work for 24 hours if the situation worsens.
Dr Daksha Shah, deputy director, health, BMC said the KEM hospital will not have the quarantine facility and they will be setting up laboratories which will accredited by the state health department. “Once approved by the government, the KEM Hospital will be directed to start corona testing by the kit which will be provided by the NIV,” he said.
When a patient tests positive, they are given symptomatic treatment for cough, cold and pneumonia and tested every alternate day. Their urine, stool and blood samples are sent to the NIV, to assess the viral shedding process — by what amount is the virus being shed from the infected body. If a patient tests negative twice in 24 hours, they are discharged.