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Coronavirus scare: Test labs coming up at SKIMS, GMC

Srinagar, Mar 8: Jammu and Kashmir administration has decided to set up two virology laboratories to ensure speedy diagnosis of suspected coronavirus cases.

In the wake of widespread panic over the emerging infection in Kashmir, two laboratories will be made functional at Sher-e-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences (SKIMS), Soura and Government Medical College (GMC), Srinagar.


In-charge Medical Superintendent SKIMS, Dr Ghulam Hassan Yattoo said so far samples of suspected novel coronavirus patients from Kashmir are sent to All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS)?for detection of the virus.

“In order to quickly detect, isolate and trace people suspected to have coronavirus, the testing laboratory will be established at SKIMS within a week’s time,” Hassan said.

Seconding him, Dr Samia Rashid, Principal Government Medical College, Srinagar said the laboratory will help to contain the virus in time.

“We will procure the reagents (a substance or mixture for use in chemical analysis or other reactions) soon. The laboratory will be made functional within a day or two,” she said.

A senior doctor at SMHS said the virus can be tested in a laboratory through a Real Time-PCR (polymerase chain reaction).

“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,” he said.

He pointed out that nasal and throat swabs are used as specimens for detecting coronavirus. The test takes at least 12-24 hours for the confirmation.

Although no positive cases of coronavirus have been reported in Kashmir, health officials said all hospitals should ensure their staff is trained and well-prepared to deal with the virus.

The government has been issuing advisories to inform people of the precautionary measures and symptoms associated with coronavirus.

Also, additional trained staff has been placed for screenings at the Srinagar Airport and National Highway Jammu and Kashmir, an isolation center was created at Sanat Nagar, and Bemina, so that the suspected cases are directly taken there instead of tertiary care centers.