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Nagaland gets its first BSL-3 lab; State-of-the-art COVID-19 test from May 23

BSL 3 lab inauguration
Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio with cabinet colleagues, advisors and medical department officials and doctors pose for lens outside the BSL-3 lab at NHAK on May 21, 2020.

Kohima, May 21: Nagaland on Thursday got its first state of the art Bio-Safety Level (BSL)-3 Laboratory for testing of suspected COVID-19 cases at Naga Hospital Authority Kohima (NHAK).
Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio inaugurated the lab in presence of Deputy Chief Minister Y Patton, Speaker Sharingain Longkumer, cabinet ministers and advisors and senior bureaucrats from the Department of Health & Family Welfare and doctors.
“It is a milestone in the history of health care delivery services, particularly in the fight against COVID-19 in the State,” said Rio in his inaugural speech.
Expressing that the COVID-19 pandemic has affected countries across the world while India also has over 1.12 lakh positive cases and the count is increasing every second, Rio said “our State is free from any positive case of COVID-19 by the grace of God and we praise God for the protection”.
“We have been sending the suspected COVID-19 samples to Assam and Manipur states for testing, and I want to express my gratitude to the neighbouring states and their government for helping us during the time of crisis,” the CM conveyed.
“Today we have successfully inaugurated the lab to test the samples, and we are hopeful that it is not only to deal with COVID-19 but also conduct research on any kind of virus and diseases,” he said.
Further maintaining that citizens of Nagaland stranded outside the State have started coming back, he said already 1,672 people have arrived and are in quarantine in Government facilities in Dimapur and Kohima and other district headquarters.
More will be coming tonight and with the train and flight services open, many more thousands will come, he said, adding that the iamstranded portal of the state government had registered 18,622 stranded people willing to return to the State.
In this, he said “we welcome them and support their return but all returnees have to abide by the directive of the government to remain in quarantine facilities so that any positive case can be kept within the containment zone.
The only thing to control to contain and control the virus is conduct more test, he said while asserting that with the lab functioning from today all test will be done here.
Expressing that any returnee testing positive should not be discriminated or stigmatized because they may have been negative before boarding but on their way they pass through many areas and as the social distancing norms are not maintained they could have contracted with the virus.
He said the state has so far been able to control the spread of virus because of the united stand of all sections of the people and the different departments.
Further maintaining that despite State financial position not being very good the Government managed to spare some fund for setting up of the lab, Rio expressed hope that the lab will be utilized carefully to protect the people of the State.
The Department, civil societies, churches and individuals have given their collective efforts in the fight against COVID-19 and now the state is in a better position to take the fight, Rio said.
“We are team Nagaland and it is because of the united effort that the virus has not entered the state till date,” he said while appealing all to continue to extend their support to keep Nagaland in the Green Zone free from COVID-19 virus.
The CM also conveyed best wishes to the frontline workers including health, police and sanitation workers.
Minister for Health and Family Welfare, S Pangnyu Phom said in reality the type of work requires six months or more for a place like Nagaland to have a BSL-3 lab but we have made it possible in about a month with world class instruments and containment building.
In his introductory note during teh programme, Secretary HFW, Kesonyu Yhome said sensing the urgency to have a COVID-19 testing facility in the State, the Nagaland government had approved to set up BSL-3 lab in Kohima and BSL-2 in Dimapur.
Accordingly, the work for setting up the BSL3 lab at Kohima started on April 16 last and it took about 25 days to complete, delayed by few days owing to supply chain issues during lockdown and unfavourable weather conditions.
Subsequently, on the basis of validation of documentation and quality check run tests, it formally received the formal approval of the ICMR on May 14 last to initiate testing for clinical spciemns for COVID19, he said.
The basic essential features of BSL3 lab include the bio safety cabinet, unidirectional air flow using room pressure gradients of negative press, exhaust air being high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filtered and procedures for proper disposal of lab waste.
BSL-3 lab has prospects beyond COVID-19
Secretary Yhome also went on to state that the BSL3 also has huge prospects in future which includes rapid response to unidentified new infections whenever such occasion emerges.
It would also characterize a lot of disease conditions in the State and the region which will help the medical professionals with better understanding of disease profiles and address them more effectively.
It would also provide greater facilities in cancer and genetic research, he said, adding that the lab can become a focal hub for research works in the North East region.
It would also help encourage our people with scientific temperament to enter into molecular biology thereby creating a pool of qualified human resource besides providing working employment, Yhome added.
BSL-3 lab to start COVID-19 test from May 23
Research Scientist of State Referral BSL-3 Lab, Dr Joshua Keppen told media persons that with two PCL machines installed, a total of 90 tests of suspected samples can be conducted per day. The tests will start from tomorrow, he said.
He also said that if required the BSL-3 lab has scope for expansion and also increase the number of tests per day by adding more man power and installation of machineries.
He said the lab has four research scientists, three technicians, two lab assistants, two security personnel and one data analyst.
NIST donates Biosafety sample collection booth
The inauguration of the BSL3 Lab was also marked with Nagaland Institute of Science & Technology (NIST) donating a Biosafety Sample Collection Booth. It was unveiled by Padmashree Neidonuo Angami.
The booth was designed and developed by NIST, which comprises of a group of retired scientist from the State.
(Page News Service)