THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: With more Malayalis expected to arrive from other states and abroad in the coming days, the state health department is planning to augment its testing facilities for Covid-19. The state which at present has 21 testing centres (15 public and six private) is planning to increase the number to 30. It has approached the Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute of Medical Sciences and Technology (SCTIMST) for validating and approving more testing centres.
The SCTIMST has been designated by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) as a mentor institute for Kerala, Andaman and Nicobar Islands and Lakshadweep to review the requests for approving any new laboratory for Covid-19 testing. “WHO itself says that testing is the key to prevent Covid-19. As the state is expecting a fresh wave and, most importantly, the third stage of Covid-19, which is community transmission, testing will have to get increased. For that, the number of testing centres will have to be increased,” said an officer.
As per the plan, nine more labs -- in three government medical colleges (Kollam, Palakkad and Alappuzha) and six private hospitals -- will be added to the existing testing centres. For that, a proposal has been submitted to the SCTIMST. As per a source, the labs in the three medical colleges are likely to get recognition by the end of this month and it might take some more time for the private ones as these will need NABL accreditation for testing samples for Covid-19.
Asha Kishore, director, SCTIMST, said, “Some applications are under our consideration. To approve a lab as a testing centre for Covid-19, it will have to meet certain parameters. The SCTIMST will evaluate the facilities, assess the expertise, and provide training in testing and examining samples. If a lab passes the same, a report is given to the ICMR for its approval.” Of the 21 labs in the state, 19 labs test samples for Covid-19 using the RT-PCR test and two labs (Regional Cancer Centre, Thiruvananthapuram, and Aster Medcity) perform Cartridge-Based Nucleic Acid Amplification Test (CBNAAT) using Cepheid Xpert Xpress SARS-CoV2.