New Delhi: Covid-19 is not easy to diagnose. The virus can be tested in a laboratory through a Real Time-PCR, followed by gene fingerprinting, experts told.
In India, 15 labs are functional to test the novel coronavirus so far. “Nineteen will be made operational soon,” said Union health minister Dr Harsh Vardhan in a recent press conference.
So far, specimens of suspected novel coronavirus patients are tested at the:
National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) in Delhi,
Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR)’s laboratories at Alappuzha,
Bengaluru, Hyderabad and Mumbai,
National Institute of Virology (NIV), Pune.
Besides the National Institute of Virology (NIV) All these labs are work under the guidance of NIV.
The test uses a nucleic acid amplification-based assay called polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and a more sensitive form called reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction (RTPCR).
According to recommendations by the World Health Organization. the diagnosis of COVID-19 must be confirmed by RT-PCR or gene sequencing for respiratory or blood specimens, as the key indicator for hospitalisation.
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“The RT- PCR test is a highly sensitive. This is a kind of gene based diagnostic test. It is much more reliable and much better than the conventional test,” said a scientist, requesting anonymity.
Nasal and throat swabs are used as specimens for detecting coronavirus. The test takes at least 12-24 hours for the confirmation.
As new cases of coronavirus emerge, the health ministry has procured “reagents to test up to 25,000 samples have been made available,” the health minister said earlier.
The same test is used for testing HIV, H1N1, dengue, polio. “The basic procedure remains the same, except that the reagents are specific to coronavirus,” added a virologist with the government run laboratory.