Andaman and Nicobar adopts 'pool testing' to conduct more tests with less kits

The Andaman and Nicobar Islands have reported 11 COVID-19 cases and 10 of them recovered from the disease.

Published: 15th April 2020 03:39 PM  |   Last Updated: 15th April 2020 03:39 PM   |  A+A-

healthcare worker, coronavirus testing

A healthcare worker collects swab sample of a person for COVID-19 test during the nationwide lockdown. (Photo | PTI)


PORT BLAIR: The Andaman and Nicobar administration has adopted the "pool testing" method using less kits for more tests in the fight against novel coronavirus, an official said on Wednesday.

The new method has been effective for efficiently utilising the resources available to combat the coronavirus outbreak here in these remote islands, he said.

"Doing more with less is important while #AndamanFightsCOVID19. We pool samples thus using one fourth of test kits. Thus more tests on average in our islands. #StayAtHome," chief secretary Chetan B Sanghi tweeted recently.

Amid spurt in COVID-19 cases in the country, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has issued an advisory on the feasibility of using pooled samples for molecular testing of coronavirus as part of an effort to increase the number of tests in the country, the official of the Union Territory administration said.

The apex health research body said the number of COVID-19 cases in India is rising exponentially and in view of this, it is critical to increase the numbers of tests conducted by laboratories.

Sample pooling for real-time screening for coronavirus is only recommended in areas with low prevalence of COVID-19, the official said.

"The pool testing method adopted by the administration has been effective to fight the virus outbreak.

"As coronavirus cases were rising in the islands, it became imperative for the health authorities to manage the available resources to combat the spread of the disease in view of the restrictions imposed for the lockdown," a health department official said.

The Andaman and Nicobar Islands have reported 11 COVID-19 cases and 10 of them recovered from the disease.

Studies by leading researchers also specified that pooling test samples is cost-effective and can provide a clear picture about the spread of the disease in a locality, the official said.

The new method involves testing multiple samples in a single test.

If a batch tests positive, then everyone whose samples were a part of that batch would have to be tested separately.

"Five samples per testing kit are used. So, 25 kits are required for testing 100 samples," the health department official said.

Meanwhile, the administration of the Union territory declared Atlanta point, Mohanpura Masjid and Biggiline areas of the Port Blair city as 'hot spots' to prevent the spread of disease.

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