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RT-PCR test load at govt. labs slightly up

GMC is only the exception where sample load has increased by four times since Jan, Feb

Though the total number of COVID-19 tests have increased in Telangana substantially, the load of samples for RT-PCR tests at the State government laboratories have increased only marginally.

From around 40,000 tests in a day throughout February to mid-March, 60,000-70,000 samples are being tested across the State from the third week of March. A total of 8,41,979 samples were examined in February, and the number has reached 10,27,906 in March with another week to spare.

RT-PCR and Rapid Antigen Tests (RAT) are performed to detect the presence of coronavirus. While results of RAT are received in a few hours, it takes a day or two to know the results of RT-PCR tests. The categorisation of total tests into RAT and RT-PCR are, however, not mentioned in the media bulletin issued by the State Health department.

At Osmania Medical College (OMC) in Koti, the sample load for RT-PCR tests increased from around 100-150 a day in January and February, to around 200-300 currently. The load was unchanged from around 75 samples a day at Government Medical College in Siddipet.

Four-time increase

The exception is the laboratory at Gandhi Medical College (GMC) where the sample load has increased from around 100 in January and February to around 400 a day now.

In the initial days of the pandemic, samples were tested only at GMC. Gradually, laboratories in other government medical colleges and hospitals were put to use. Currently, RT-PCR tests are conducted at GMC, Institute of Preventive Medicine at Narayanguda, OMC, Siddipet medical college, and some other facilities.

The Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology and Centre for DNA Fingerprinting and Diagnostics also examine the samples.

Last year, four scientists were assigned to GMC in addition to two there to process the samples. As the tenure of the four scientists ended, the laboratory at the college is left with only two. Two days ago, Health Minister Eatala Rajender at a meeting with senior officials decided to increase the number of RT-PCR tests. Doctors opined that the GMC lab would need more scientists if the load were to increase further.

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