Coronavirus: What tests should you get done and in which lab ?

Doctors also recommend carrying out antibodies test to detect possible side effects which can develop alongside the viral infection.

Picture: Pixabay

Coronavirus outbreak has spread to many countries across the globe. India, too is on the brink of a crisis, with over 41 confirmed cases of Coronavirus so far. There’s also a lot of panic across, more so because the disease exhibits symptoms similar to that of a cold or flu. The number of people who have died of the disease globally stands at 3,830.

While the cases continue to rise, the biggest focus right now is to diagnose and quarantine people as soon as possible to stop the spread of infection. Even though the symptoms are similar to that of a cold or the flu, coronavirus is a “novel” strain, and hence, the testing is also different.

What is the procedure
Quarantine and isolation is the first line of defence to protect against Coronavirus risk.
Since coronavirus is a high-risk infection, Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) suggests that anyone with a recent travel history to COVID-19 affected countries or someone who has been in close contact with infected patients is also advised screening. A statement reads:

Following people should be considered for COVID-19 testing.

  • 1.Symptomatic (fever, sore throat, running nose, dyspnea, etc) individuals who have traveled to affected countries (China, Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Iran, Italy etc.)
  • 2. Close contacts of confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 infection.
  • 3. All individuals evacuated and quarantined from Wuhan, China and Diamond Princess ship, Japan.

While there is no readily available test kit to detect coronavirus infection, doctors and researchers go by a series of tests to confirm the infection. Sometimes, testing can also be done at home or at the lab. The testing usually involves drawing blood and mucus samples.

To see if a person is actually infected by the “novel” coronavirus strain, technicians conduct analysis which involves three specific tests:

  • Swab test: A cotton swab is inserted inside the throat or the nose.
  • -Nasal aspirate: A saline solution is injected inside the nose and once done, the test sample is removed.
  • -A tracheal aspirate: Testers also insert a bronchoscope which collects swabs from inside the lungs. Sometimes, a sputum test is also ordered to analyse infection pattern.

Also read: Coronavirus in India: Govt issues fresh travel advisory

Doctors also recommend carrying out antibodies test to detect possible side effects which can develop alongside the viral infection.

The collected samples are then studied to detect virus risk. Specific gene sequences which can detect for the novel coronavirus are conducted in virology labs. One such lab is National Institue of Virology (NIV), located in Pune. With rising cases, the government of India has accredited 52 more labs across the country to help fasten the testing procedures at the preliminary level. World Health Organisation (WHO) suggests that the diagnosis of COVID-19 must be done by RT-PCR (polymerase chain reaction) or gene sequencing for respiratory or blood specimens

How long does it take for results to come back?
Since the tests are done to detect virus incubation and its gene sequence, the testing procedure takes a little longer. While some labs can send reports in less than 10 hours, otherwise, it usually takes longer to see results.

Is it reliable?
Even though the testing kit is currently set in place, it isn’t entirely “reliable”. There are chances of false positives and negatives to come back, which is what happened with the first Indian patient who tested positive for coronavirus.

Here is the list of 52 labs across India where coronavirus testing is available:

1. Sri Venkateswara Institute of Medical Sciences, Tirupati
2. Andhra Medical College, Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh
3. GMC, Anantapur, AP
4. Regional Medical Research Centre, Port Blair, Andaman and Nicobar
5. Gauhati Medical College, Guwahati
6. Regional Medical Research Center, Dibrugarh
7. Rajendra Memorial Research Institute of Medical Sciences, Patna
8. Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education & Research, Chandigarh
9. All India Institute Medical Sciences, Raipur
10. All India Institute Medical Sciences, Delhi
11. National Centre for Disease Control, Delhi
12. BJ Medical College, Ahmedabad
13. M.P.Shah Government Medical College, Jamnagar
14. Pt. B.D. Sharma Post Graduate Inst. of Med. Sciences, Rohtak, Haryana
15. BPS Govt Medical College, Sonipat
16. Indira Gandhi Medical College, Shimla, Himachal Pradesh
17. Dr.Rajendra Prasad Govt. Med. College, Kangra, Tanda, HP
18. Sher-e- Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences, Srinagar
19. Government Medical College, Jammu
20. MGM Medical College, Jamshedpur
21. Bangalore Medical College & Research Institute, Bangalore
22. National Institute of Virology Field Unit Bangalore
23. Mysore Medical College & Research Institute, Mysore
24. Hassan Inst. of Med. Sciences, Hassan, Karnataka
25. Shimoga Inst. of Med. Sciences, Shivamogga, Karnataka
26. National Institute of Virology Field Unit, Kerala
27. Govt. Medical College, Thriuvananthapuram, Kerala
28. Govt. Medical College, Kozhikhode, Kerala
29. All India Institute Medical Sciences, Bhopal
30. National Institute of Research in Tribal Health (NIRTH), Jabalpur
31. NEIGRI of Health and Medical Sciences, Shillong, Meghalaya
32.Indira Gandhi Government Medical College, Nagpur
33. Kasturba Hospital for Infectious Diseases, Mumbai
34. J N Inst. of Med. Sciences Hospital, Imphal-East, Manipur
35. Regional Medical Research Center, Bhubaneswar
36. Jawaharlal Institute of Postgraduate Medical Education & Research, Puducherry
37. Government Medical College, Patiala, Punjab
38. Government Medical College, Amritsar
39. Sawai Man Singh, Jaipur
40. Dr. S.N Medical College, Jodhpur
41. Jhalawar Medical College, Jhalawar, Rajasthan
42. SP Med. College, Bikaner, Rajasthan
43. King’s Institute of Preventive Medicine & Research, Chennai
44. Government Medical College, Theni
45. Government Medical College, Agartala
46. Gandhi Medical College, Secunderabad
47. King’s George Medical University, Lucknow
48. Institute of Medical Sciences, Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi
49. Jawaharlal Nehru Medical College, Aligarh
50. Government Medical College, Haldwani
51. National Institute of Cholera and Enteric Diseases, Kolkata
52. IPGMER, Kolkata

While we report on the spread of coronavirus in India, we also need to emphasise that the need for caution shouldn’t lead to an atmosphere filled with anxiety and fear. We stand by #CautionYesPanicNo

Also read: Coronavirus: Make hand sanitizer at home