The tiny border state of Sikkim which does not have a single COVID-19 positive case till now has embarked on a journey for viral research. Sikkim Chief Minister Prem Singh Tamang on Thursday inaugurated the state’s first Viral Research and Diagnostic Laboratory (VRDL) at the STNM Hospital near here.
With inauguration of the VRDL in Sikkim, samples related to COVID-19 will no longer have to be sent to North Bengal Medical College and Hospital in Siliguri, West Bengal, for RT-PCR testing, the chief minister said.
Voicing his opinion on the occasion, he thanked the engineering cell of the health department, in particular, for building infrastructure for the VRDL on the ninth floor of the STNM hospital within a short span of 26 days after approval of the project by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).
The STNM Hospital, Gangtok has been conducting regular tests through TrueNat machines and out of 583 samples tested till Wednesday , 459 samples have tested negative for COVID-19 while the results of the remaining samples are still awaited.
Concurrently, out of the 759 samples tested through RT- PCR machines at the North Bengal Medical College, 543 were found to be negative and the rest is still pending.
The VRDL laboratory will be able to test 90 samples daily.
For a start, the facility will be manned by a microbiologist and two laboratory technicians, health officials said.
Subsequent batches of laboratory technicians are being trained, they said.
75 % of the cost of construction and establishment of the VRDL was funded by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), while 25% was borne by Alkem Laboratories Pvt. Ltd. from its CSR fund, the officials said. The ICMR procured the equipment for the laboratory through the National Institute of Pathology, Noida.