Karnataka: Hailed for its efforts in testing, Dimhans gets additional equipment

Dharwad: A laboratory to conduct Covid-19 tests using RT-PCR method was set up at the Dharwad Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (Dimhans) in the third week of April to ease the burden on the Karnataka Institute of Medical Sciences (KIMS), and six months later, it can be safely surmised that the Dimhans laboratory has exceeded its fiat. In acknowledgement of its impressive record in testing, both the state government and the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) have provided Dimhans 96 additional RT-PCR machines, as many auto extractors and liquid handling units, so as to help the facility increase its capacity.

A dedicated laboratory to test samples for Covid-19 was set up first at KIMS after it emerged the first resident in Dharwad to be confirmed infected – in the second week of March – had travelled to several private hospitals before it was learnt that he was positive for the novel coronavirus. KIMS was also designated a Covid Care Centre (CCC). However, mounting cases in Dharwad and neighbouring districts of Koppal, Ballari, Gadag, Haveri, Uttara Kannada and Bagalkot – samples were being dispatched from all these districts to KIMS – meant that the laboratory was too overburdened.

Recognising the need for distributing this burden, then Dharwad deputy commissioner Deepa Cholan and MP Pralhad Joshi submitted a proposal to ICMR seeking permission to set up a lab at Dimhans. While throat and nose swabs collected from Dharwad residents were still being tested at KIMS, swab samples collected from residents of other districts were sent to the laboratory at Dimhans.

The laboratory at Dimhans has, as on October 20, conducted one lakh tests for Covid-19. On average, around a 1,000 samples are being tested daily for Covid-19 at the laboratory, said Dimhans director Dr Mahesh Desai.

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