No COVID-19 testing centres in North Karnataka

No COVID-19 testing centres in entire North Karnataka region

Representative image.

It took almost 48 hours for the health department officials of Kalaburagi to send the swabs and other details of 78-year-old COVID-19 victim to the Bengaluru laboratory for confirmation of the virus. By the time the Virus Research and Diagnostic Laboratory of Bengaluru Medical College & Research Institute confirmed the patient as positive, he was dead.

The Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR), a wing of Union Government’s Department of Health Research, has identified five institutes in Karnataka to test COVID-19 cases and two institutes to collect samples.

However, none of the five testing institutes are in North Karnataka. While the two sample collecting centres in Kalaburagi and Ballari are yet to start its unit as they do not have the required equipments.

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According to State Health Minister B Sriramulu, the State government has requested the Union government to provide the equipment and the Union government is waiting for the arrival of the World Health Organisation approved machines to be dispatched. Sources said it would take at least one week for the arrival of the sophisticated equipment to the two centres.

Currently, the ICMR has given approval for the Bengaluru Medical College & Research Institute; National Institute of Virology field unit, Bengaluru; Mysuru Medical College & Research Institute; Hasan Institute of Medical Sciences and Shivamogga Institute of Medical Science to test medical samples for Covid-19.

The Karnataka Institute of Medical Sciences (KIMS), the life line of the entire Mumbai-Karnataka region, could have housed the first Virology Department in entire North Karnataka, had the Health Department officials, especially the Department of Health and Family Welfare had taken initiative to set up one. In 2014, the State government had approved for setting up a Virology Department at KIMS, however due to confusion over who will lift the bill resulted in the department not being set up here.

Initially, the Union government had agreed to construct the virology department here, however after State government informed the Central government that they would foot the bill of Rs 1.5 crore for the institute, the Union government diverted the allotted funds to other State.

Later, for reasons unknown to the local health department officials, the State government did not allot funds for the virology department. Now, the Union government has sought a fresh proposal from the State government for approval.

Speaking to DH, KIMS Medical Superintendent Arun Kumar said, presence of the Virology Department would have definitely helped in speedy testing of samples and early treatment. The doctors need not have waited for 24 to 48 hours to get confirmation had a centre been here.

Even in the Kalaburagi case the results would have been out within 12 hours if the unit was functioning in KIMS.

KIMS Director Ramalingappa Antartani said the institute has allotted 2,000 sq ft of space for setting of virology department, and also have the required manpower. A virology department is very essential as KIMS receives thousands of patients every day from across North Karnataka.

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