Increased testing at the IGI Airport as a caution for novel Covid-19 variant

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After the declaration of Union Health Ministry regarding the stringent measures to identify the new strain of Covid-19 , it has become mandatory testing for the potentially high-risk countries which includes the United Kingdom, Middle East, Europe, which has led to the increased load due to the monumental task at the testing labs of the Indira Gandhi International Airport.

The guidelines by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) stated, “Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) in consultation with the Ministry of Civil Aviation reviewed the situation with regards to the point of entry actions required to minimize the risk of importation of mutual strains of SARS CoV-2. The Standard Operation Procedure (SOP) shall be valid w.e.f from February 22.”

There has been a 10-fold increase in the testing procedure. With the earlier norms, around 500 – 700 international passengers were being tested daily, however, in the present scenario, the lab is staring at a count of over 7,000 members.

The laboratory’s testing procedure infrastructure is well-equipped for a capacity of 15,000 samples on a daily basis, the operations team consisting of the data entry procedures and the technicians in-charge of sample collection had to be increased further by 10 times to manage the large count of incoming passengers from the UK, Europe, and the Middle East.

Genestrings lab said,” A massive recruitment drive was launched immediately after the SOP was announced and over 200 staff was recruited overnight and trained over the next two days.”

It was identified during the time slot between 3 am to 5 am, a count of 1,200 passengers will be subjected to RT-PCR testing according to the record reported for the peak hours of the airport.

Dr Gauri Agarwal, Director of Genestrings Diagnostic Labs said, “It is a very brave and timely decision taken by the government to control a new wave of COVID-19 cases in the country. We are fully prepared and will ensure a smooth experience for all passengers who will be quite anxious.”

Genestrings lab, is the only laboratory at the Indira Gandhi International Airport and was the first laboratory in India to create a an on-arrival testing facility launched in September 2020.

(With inputs from agency)

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