The West Bengal government on Friday sanctioned Rs.6.25 lakh to the National Institute of Cholera and Enteric Diseases which claimed to have run out of funds for swine flu tests, an official said.

A scientist at the NICED, which is handling around 50 to 60 suspect samples of swine flu every day, said on Friday that the central research agency had exhausted funds to procure necessary chemicals for the HINI virus test.

"We actually had run out of all the funds and we are trying to get funds from everywhere. We have sent a request to the West Bengal government also," a scientist incharge of the tests, told IANS earlier in the day.

Apart from NICED, which is an Indian Council of Medical Research centre, two private hospitals are the only other official testing centres in the flu-hit state.

However, the state government steeped in to help.

Principal Secretary, Health and Family Welfare, Malay Kumar De said that the state government has "delivered a cheque of Rs.6.25 lakh physically" to the Institute as requested.

"We have physically delivered a cheque of Rs.6. 25 lakh today (Friday). We had earlier given them Rs.5 lakh. But we were told that they are running out of the money and would not be able to perform tests from next week. We have assured our full support," De told IANS.

As on Friday, the death toll in the state is 18 and 289 patients have tested positive for the virus, he said.

The Institute, in the last two months, has examined around 900 samples for free. It has also examined six samples from Mizoram, the scientist had said, but lamented there weren’t enough funds to purchase the reagents for the test.

NICED’s mandate is to perform research and develops strategies for treatment, prevention and control of enteric infections and HIV/AIDS.

However, with the flu cases on the rise in Bengal, the scientists are hard-pressed for time to carry out any studies.

"We are busy with the tests. We are trying our best to do as much as we can to handle the increasing cases and have no time for research on the samples," the scientist said.