<script async src="https://pagead2.googlesyndication.com/pagead/js/adsbygoogle.js"></script> <!-- left top --> <ins class="adsbygoogle" style="display:inline-block;width:120px;height:338px" data-ad-client="ca-pub-3213246654460995" data-ad-slot="5134079820"></ins> <script> (adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({}); </script>
<script async src="https://pagead2.googlesyndication.com/pagead/js/adsbygoogle.js"></script> <!-- Right top --> <ins class="adsbygoogle" style="display:inline-block;width:120px;height:338px" data-ad-client="ca-pub-3213246654460995" data-ad-slot="8542841791"></ins> <script> (adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({}); </script>
 

Top News

Sikkim viral lab ready, CM to inaugurate today

Thursday, May 21, 2020 15:00 [IST]

Last Update: Thursday, May 21, 2020 09:16 [IST]

Sikkim viral lab ready, CM to inaugurate today

DICHEN ONGMU
GANGTOK: Chief Minister P.S. Golay would be inaugurating the much-awaited viral lab at new STNM hospital, Sochyagang here on Thursday morning. However, testing of Covid-19 samples cannot commence immediately till validation from Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), New Delhi arrives.
Speaking with SIKKIM EXPRESS, Health secretary-cum-director general Dr. Pempa T Bhutia informed that the viral lab is being completed on Wednesday and it would be inaugurated by the Chief Minister. “We will do formal inauguration and after that, we would be sending the report to ICMR for validation. The best part is that this lab has been funded by the ICMR and it is 100 percent sure that the ICMR will validate our lab,” he said.
The lab, among other equipment, has two RT-PCR machines for Covid-19 testing. We have two RT-PCR machines and will start testing once the ICMR validation comes, said Dr. Pempa.
So far, Sikkim has been sending samples to North Bengal Medical College& Hospital (NBMCH), Siliguri for testing.
Construction works for the viral lab in STNM hospital here started from April 13.
According to Dr. Pempa, the Sikkim government had been processing the viral lab demand with the ICMR since 2015 but the proposal had not been sanctioned. Approval from the ICMR came only in the first week of April after which, the Sikkim government sent its engineers and microbiologists to understand the functioning and requirements of a viral lab at NBMCH. Upon their return, all the members were sent for quarantine and tested for coronavirus. After their tests came negative, we started our work to set up the lab from April 13.
The final consignment of materials and equipment for Sikkim viral lab was dispatched from Delhi on an IAF aircraft on May 14.
The Health director general shared that 25% of the lab requirements were sponsored by the Alkem pharma company as a CSR contribution. Rest came from ICMR who also deputed three technicians to calibrate the machines. One more technician was needed for the UPS fitting in the lab. The four technicians have returned back home on Tuesday after installing and calibrating the machines.
It was informed that the Health department has already trained one microbiologist and two technicians to work in the viral lab. Another group of one microbiologist and three technicians would be sent for training.
Dr. Pempa shared that there is a backlog of around 287 samples from Sikkim at NBMCH lab. We contacted the authorities there yesterday and have requested that testing of the remaining samples is expedited so there is no backlog when we start the testing in our lab, he said.
It was informed that the Sikkim viral lab, as it was built on ICMR funding, would have to take cases from neighbouring Kalimpong and Darjeeling districts if the need arises.
“In future, if we are told test samples from other places like Kalimpong and Darjeeling districts then we cannot say no as we have to follow the instructions of the ICMR. We have been sending our samples to NBMCH, Kolkata and Guwahati as per the ICMR guidelines. Tomorrow, suppose there is huge load in NMBCH then we can do testing of Kalimpong and Darjeeling samples here also,” said Dr. Pempa.
Asked how the viral lab would benefit Sikkim in the long run, the Health director general pointed that the viral lab can be used for testing of all viral outbreak cases. Covid-19 is a sub-component of the viral lab and in future, if there is outbreak of other viruses, we can do the testing here itself, he said.

Sikkim at a Glance

  • Area: 7096 Sq Kms
  • Capital: Gangtok
  • Altitude: 5,840 ft
  • Population: 6.10 Lakhs
  • Topography: Hilly terrain elevation from 600 to over 28,509 ft above sea level
  • Climate:
  • Summer: Min- 13°C - Max 21°C
  • Winter: Min- 0.48°C - Max 13°C
  • Rainfall: 325 cms per annum
  • Language Spoken: Nepali, Bhutia, Lepcha, Tibetan, English, Hindi