BENGALURU: The Health Department, apart from increasing sample collection, is also ensuring that testing is done effectively by ensuring enough number of machines in testing labs across the state. The stress is now on installing more automated machines so that RT-PCR results can be obtained in just two hours.
“We are increasing the number of samples being tested from 50,000 to 55,000 a day in 100 labs across the state. However, to ensure that there is no backlog, more automated machines are being added in these labs,” Jawaid Akhtar, Additional Chief Secretary, Health Department, told TNSE.
Now, on any given day, there is a backlog of samples for the last 48 hours. The department wants to reduce the waiting time for patients by ensuring samples are analysed within two hours and reports given the same day. Now, it takes 24-48 hours for a patient to get the report.
The machines will be installed in labs not just in Bengaluru, where samples are high, but also in other districts where more cases are being reported, like in Ballari, Mysuru, Dakshina Kannada, Kalaburagi and Dharwad. Each machine costs around Rs 40-55 lakh depending on the model, and the state government is funding them. The Health Department is also getting CSR funds to supply these machines.
Currently, big labs, like those at NIMHANS and Bengaluru Medical College, have two RT-PCR and ribonucleic acid (RNA) extraction machines and the department aims to increase it to five, so that 96 samples can be analysed in four hours.
The department is also holding talks with government and private hospitals and clinics, asking them to help in early detection of cases by referring patients with nascent Covid symptoms for tests. Now, the emphasis is on pharmacies to inform the government about the sale of medicines for cold, fever, ILI and SARI type illnesses.