Mobile labs to expedite Nipah testing

The labs will be deployed in containment zones for testing people in the contact list of the infected persons.

Published: 15th September 2023 07:18 AM  |   Last Updated: 15th September 2023 07:23 AM   |  A+A-

Police deployed at the containment zone at kuzhubil kooniyodu road. (Photo | E Gokul)

By Express News Service

T’PURAM/KOZHIKODE: The health department has decided to utilise the Nipah testing capabilities of different labs in the state through mobile units. Health Minister Veena George flagged off one such unit, a fully-equipped mobile virology testing laboratory of the Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Biotechnology (RGCB), on Thursday. The lab, equipped with Biosafety Level-2 (BSL-2) facilities, can test for the presence of bacteria, fungi, and other pathogenic organisms, besides assessing food quality. The lab has a five-member team.

“Two machines will be operating at the lab simultaneously. Each machine can handle around 96 samples at any point in time, taking the total testing capacity to 192 samples,” said RGCB director Chandrabhas Narayana. The results will be available within three hours. Viral extraction and real-time PCR can be done in the lab.

Meanwhile, another mobile lab of the Indian Council of Medical Research has already reached Kozhikode.  The lab having BSL-3 facilities will be operated by a team from the National Institute of Virology (NIV), Pune, comprising scientists Dr Rima R Sahai, Dr Kannan Sabrinath, and Dr Deepak Patil besides four technicians. The team is in charge of releasing test results as soon as possible.  BSLs are safeguards that protect laboratory personnel, the environment, and the community. 

A staffer at the isolation ward of Kozhikode Medical College Hospital on Thursday. (Photo | E Gokul)

“The arrival of mobile labs will expedite Nipah testing,” said Veena.  The labs will be deployed in containment zones for testing people in the contact list of the infected persons.

The Viral Research and Diagnostic Lab in Kozhikode, the Institute of Advanced Virology (IAV) in Thiruvananthapuram and the National Institute of Virology in Alappuzha can also carry out testing for Nipah.

The health department came under fire recently for failing to utilise testing facilities of labs in the state adequately. Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had said the government would investigate why samples of suspected patients were not sent to the IAV.


In containment zones

  • No public gatherings, including at places of worship
  • No visitors at hospitals. Only one bystander allowed
  • Ban on toddy tapping and sale
  • Work from home for government employees
  • ID cards for volunteers
  • No entry at beaches, parks
  • Monitoring of pig farms

In district

  • Meetings should be conducted online
  • Visiting shopping malls, parks, and beaches should be avoided
  • Masks, and sanitiser are mandatory at places of worship
  • Permission needed for unavoidable functions
  • No visitors at hospitals. Only one bystander allowed
  • No travel to containment zones

Holiday tomorrow for educational institutions

A holiday has been declared for all educational institutions, including anganwadis, madrassas and professional colleges in the district on Saturday in the wake of the Nipah virus outbreak. Earlier, holidays were announced in the district on Thursday and Friday. University and PSC exams remain unchanged. 

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