Bengal aims for 15,000 Covid-19 tests a day
The state health department has decided to increase the number of daily Covid-19 tests from around 9,500 now to 15,000 by the end of this month, officials said.
Health department officials said there was a need for more tests because migrant workers had started returning in hordes from other states to different parts of Bengal.
A number of steps are being taken to ramp up Bengal’s testing capacity.
From next week, the Calcutta Medical College and Hospital, which has been converted into a tertiary-level hospital to treat Covid-19 patients, will start conducting the RT-PCR test for the novel coronavirus.
“A formal approval from the Indian Council of Medical Research for the RT-PCR test at the laboratory set up at the College Street hospital reached the state government earlier this week. The medical college will start collecting samples from next week,” a health department official said.
Now, swab samples of patients admitted to the hospital are sent to the School of Tropical Medicine for tests.
“Once the new laboratory starts functioning, the School of Tropical Medicine will be ready to accept samples from other places. The detection of coronavirus cases at the Calcutta Medical College and Hospital will now be faster,” the health department official said.
An RT-PCR machine was installed at SSKM Hospital three days back, taking the number of machines to detect the novel coronavirus in swab samples at the premier government referral hospital to three.
The machine that has been installed at SSKM was lying defunct at ESI Hospital in Maniktala. The health department brought in technicians from Chennai to get it repaired.
The hospital has been conducting over 1,000 tests every day, the highest followed by Niced Beleghata and the North Bengal Medical College and Hospital in Siliguri.
The health department has bought six RT-PCR machines, which will be distributed to various testing centres by next week. “The medical colleges in Diamond Harbour, Rampurhat and Cooch Behar will get one machine each,” an official said.
The health department has placed an order to buy a fully-automated testing machine from a US-based company that could carry out RNA extraction and test samples without any human intervention. Officials said the machine could perform over 3,000 tests every day.
The College of Medicine and Sagore Dutta Hospital in Kamarhati will be turned into a Covid-19 hospital, officials said. Initially, 200 beds will be dedicated for Covid treatment. More beds will be added later.