With the ICMR clearing a laboratory in Nagaland, all the seven northeastern states now have facilities to test Covid-19 samples, officials said.
Apart from Nagaland, six other northeastern states, excluding Sikkim, have their own or Central government-run labs for testing coronavirus.
“After setting up the laboratory at Naga Hospital Authority Kohima (NHAK), all relevant protocols were completed on May 12 and documents for validation were sent to the ICMR (Indian Council of Medical Research) and approval was received on Thursday,” Nagaland Principal Secretary (Health and Family Welfare) Menukhol John told IANS over phone.
He said the testing of samples for COVID-19 would start as soon as the reagents are received from the ICMR. Samples from Nagaland until now are being sent to Assam and Manipur for testing. “After starting the testing of samples in the new laboratory, we do not need to send the samples to the neighbouring states unless there is a critical situation,” John said.
Nagaland Health Secretary Kesonyu Yhome said another COVID-19 testing laboratory is likely to be set up at the Christian Institute of Health Sciences in Dimapur for which civil works are in progress.
The Kohima bench of the Gauhati High Court, following a writ petition, had earlier asked the Nagaland government to set up the COVID-19 sample testing laboratory in a specified time.
According to health officials, Assam currently has seven COVID-19 testing laboratories followed by two in Manipur, once each in Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Tripura.
Arunachal Pradesh Health Minister Alo Libang on April 30 launched the state’s first laboratory at a hospital in Naharlagun for conducting tests of samples. Before Arunachal Pradesh, the ICMR had approved a testing laboratory in Zoram Medical College in Mizoram capital Aizawl.
Tripura and other northeastern states have been demanding more COVID-19 testing laboratories. According to health officials, Union Health and Family Welfare Minister Harsh Vardhan on May 9 during a discussion (through video conferencing) with the ministers and officials of all the northeastern states discussed the issue.
Tripura’s Additional Chief Secretary, Health and Family Welfare, Sanjay Kumar Rakesh was quoted as: “Besides an additional COVID-19 testing laboratory, we had sought additional ventilators and testing kits. The (Union) minister was very positive towards our needs and problems.”