GANGTOK, May 21 - Sikkim Chief Minister Prem Singh Tamang today inaugurated the State’s first viral research and diagnostic laboratory (VRDL). The laboratory certified by the Indian Council of Medical Research ) was opened at the STNM Hospital at Sochaygang, a designated COVID-19 hospital.
Cabinet Ministers, MLAs, MPs, senior State Government officials, doctors and medical staff of the hospital were present on the occasion.
After the inauguration, the Chief Minister inspected the facility and he was briefed by the doctors and microbiologists. Tamang said the completion of the laboratory in a record time of 35 days amid unprecedented constraints was a huge achievement of the State Government. He thanked the entire medical fraternity of the State and the ICMR for hand-holding the entire process, right from construction to validation.
Tamang said that with the establishment of the laboratory, Sikkim will no longer have to depend on other States for COVID-19 and other medical tests. Samples from Sikkim are being sent to the North Bengal Medical College and Hospital in Siliguri for RTPCR testing for COVID-19.
The laboratory has a capacity to conduct 90 tests at a time. It will take three-and-a -half hours to deliver test results of a batch of 90 samples. It will be initially manned by one microbiologist and two laboratory technicians.
The laboratory will become fully functional after the final validation of the RNA extraction kit and all other required consumables by the ICMR.
According to senior health officials, the laboratory should be able to start the testing process from May 26.
It may be mentioned here that 75 per cent of the cost of construction and establishment of the laboratory was borne by the ICMR, while 25 per cent of the funds were provided by a private firm from its CSR fund.