Saturday, 16 January, 2021

Gandaki State introduces mass screening programme for COVID-19

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By Smita Adhikari, Pokhara, Aug. 5: The Gandaki State on Wednesday introduced a mass screening programme to conduct Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) tests with a view to expanding the COVID-19 testing in those officials who come to direct contact with a lot of people on a daily basis.

Sapana Subedi, Chief of the Gandaki State Public Health Laboratory, said that the mass screening programme was implemented to prevent the community transmission of the virus.

According to the State Public Health Laboratory, police personnel and security officials would be tested in the first phase of the mass screening.

Swab samples will then be collected serially from other service providing offices to perform the PCR test. Likewise, samples will be collected from hospitals and other places with high human mobility for mass screening, said the State Government.

Along with expanding the COVID-19 tests, Gandaki State has set various programmes targeting the community to contain the virus spread.

Currently, the PCR test is being done rapidly in State Public Health Laboratory and Pokhara Academy of Health Sciences with the help of ‘automated extraction machine’.

Dr. Bishwo Bandu Sharma, Director of the Gandaki State Health Directorate, said, “The machine has increased the efficiency of PCR testing.”

Previously, it used to take five hours to put the sample in the PCR machine. After installation of the automated extraction machine, it can be done in 35 minutes, said Dr. Sharma.

Thousands of samples used to be shelved in the freezer in a single day previously.

Meanwhile, the quarantine centers are getting empty, of late, in the Gandaki State.

According to Dr. Sharma, around 400 swab samples were being tested currently in Gandaki State. “Including the samples collected through mass screening, around 1,000 samples can be tested daily,” he added.

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