KOZHIKODE: Sumaiya (name changed) starts from her house around 7.30am for the Virology Research and Diagnostic Centre (VRDL) of the Kozhikode Government Medical College Hospital (MCH). Once she enters duty, till 9pm, her seven-member team of technicians remains immersed in the serious job of extracting and screening the novel coronavirus closely. Working with the virus each day, they are yet to take a break after the Covid-19 laboratory began functioning there on March 10.
Exposed to the pathogen five times over compared to other medical professionals including doctors and nurses, technicians deal with 60-80 tests a day. The VRDL has so far tested more than 800 samples, 14 of which have turned positive. Laboratory technicians have to remain in suits, surgical gloves, masks and goggles throughout their work.
“We work to strict deadlines as there is serious pressure from the higher authorities due to the rising number of samples coming in daily,” says Sumaiya.To negate the risk of infection, most of them avoid going home.
“One person getting infected could ruin the process as the entire batch of technicians will have to go under quarantine. Hence we are taking all precautionary measures possible,” she says. Each VRDL technician is focused on dispatching samples at the earliest. “When every sample reaches the final stage, we pray it turns negative,” according to Sumaiya.
How Covid testing is conducted
Testing for Covid-19 is a long and fine-grained process as each sample goes through different stages of examination. The virology lab of the MCH is divided into four zones. After the samples are collected, the second stage involves the extraction of the ribonucleic acid or RNA of the coronavirus. In stage three, the sample is screened through real-time polymerase chain reaction test and a specific gene found in corona virus is identified. The confirmatory test happens in the fourth stage.