Coronavirus Outbreak: Nine more labs in Maharashtra to begin testing this week

Updated: Mar 24, 2020, 07:19 IST | Arita Sarkar | Mumbai

BMC ropes in more hospitals to increase quarantine facilities as Coronavirus cases continue to spike in the state

The quarantine ward set up at JJ Hospital
The quarantine ward set up at JJ Hospital

With constant spike in Coronavirus cases in the state, the MVA government and the civic body have increased the number of laboratories to test the suspected patients, besides roping in more hospitals to set up quarantine and isolation facilities.

Testing of samples first started at the National Institute of Virology in Pune, followed by Kasturba Hospital in Mumbai and Indira Gandhi Government Medical College and Hospital in Nagpur. Later, KEM Hospital also set up the facility for testing.

The government aims at increasing state's testing capacity to at least 1,000 a day in the coming week. Currently, Kasturba Hospital tests around
250 samples a day while KEM tests around 50.

In Mumbai, the government has given permission to Haffkine Laboratory and JJ Hospital for testing. Sanjay Mukherjee, secretary of medical education department, said sanction has been given for six new laboratories across the state, including in Miraj, Akola, Aurangabad, Dhule, Solapur and Nagpur.

The BMC has also roped in private laboratories for testing. Meanwhile, the Indian Council of Medical Research has given permission to Thyrocare, Suburban Diagnostics Mumbai, Metropolis Healthcare and H.N Reliance Foundation Hospital to test Coronavirus samples. They will begin testing in a day or two. Soon, Lilavati, Hinduja and Kokilaben hospitals will also begin testing. However, the charges at private centres could go up to R5,000.

More quarantine facilities
The city currently has quarantine facilities at Kasturba Hospital, Bhabha Hospitals in Kurla and Bandra, Trauma Care hospital in Jogeshwari and Rajawadi Hospital in Ghatkopar. But, as the continues to record more cases, the BMC has expanded quarantine facilities to SevenHills Hospital in Andheri East with a capacity of over 550 beds and Municipal Capacity Building and Research Centre in Chandivli with a capacity of around 300 beds.

Suspected cases landing at the international airport are being sent to SevenHills Hospital for quarantine. State-run JJ Hospital in Byculla and GT Hospital near Crawford Market will also start isolation facilities. Dr Pallavi Sable, dean of JJ Hospital, said they are nearly ready with 90 beds at JJ Hospital and 270 beds at GT Hospital. She said JJ Hospital will primarily serve patients in need of intensive care since they have around 95 ventilators.

The BMC said 12 private hospitals have together reserved 150 beds and hospitals have been told to charge 50 per cent of hospitalisation fees or R4,000 (whichever is less).

Dr Om Srivastava, infectious disease specialist at Jaslok Hospital, said testing more people will help understand the spread of the virus.

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