Health officials today claimed that the hundreds of pending Covid tests at the Viral Research & Diagnostic Laboratory (VRDL) at the North Bengal Medical College and Hospital (NBMCH) in Siliguri have now been cleared. The trial run of the automatic RNA extraction machine has also started, it is learnt.

Concerns have poured in from many quarters about the delay in the tests. The VRDL at the NBMCH has been under immense pressure as it caters to Jalpaiguri, Alipurduar and Cooch Behar districts too, apart from Darjeeling and Kalimpong districts.

Until a few days ago, swab samples were sent from Sikkim too. “We had imposed restrictions on the number (50) of swab samples to be sent by districts, and that helped us reduce the backlog. The backlog until yesterday has now been cleared, and most of the results are negative.

It is now expected that the tests reports will be issued within 24 hours,” said the officer on special duty for Covid-19 in north Bengal, Dr Susanta Kumar Roy. He said the testing capacity will be augmented by the RNA extraction machine.

“There were around 6,000 samples pending. However, following this development, the number of samples has again increased from the districts,” he added.

According to NBMCH officials, the RNA extraction machine has been made functional on an experimental basis. Manually, the laboratory is testing up to 1,500 swab samples a day, when it used to receive more than 2,000 samples a day from different districts before the restrictions.

“We are expecting that one-and-a-half-fold tests will be increased from the present capacity following the functioning of the machine. One more RT-PCR, which is supposed to be brought, will increase more testing capacity,” Dr Roy added.

Woman gives birth:

Another Covid-19 positive woman gave birth to a baby girl at the NBMCH last night. The 24- year-old woman from Upper Bagdogra under Naxalbari block, who has been admitted in the isolation ward, tested positive yesterday.

Meanwhile, three more persons were found positive today. The development comes five days after a tea worker of the same block and a Covid- 19 positive patient had given birth to a female baby on 26 May. The gynecologist of the NBMCH, Dr Sandip Sengupta, said the mother and daughter were doing well.

“Successful delivery was performed at the surgical isolation ward at 10.30 last night. It was a normal delivery and the baby is completely healthy, weighs 3 kg,” Dr Sengupta said. The baby has been tested negative for Covid-19, it is learnt.

Seven test positive:

On the other hand, five new cases were detected in the Siliguri Sub Division. Two persons who came in contact with the tea worker, who was earlier tested positive for Covid-19, in the Naxalbari block, has tested positive.

A resident of Phansidewa, who returned from Mumabi and came in contact with a positive patient, has also tested positive. Two house-keeping staff of the quarantine centre at Batasi under the Kharabari block were also tested positive for Covid-19.

Meanwhile, three persons undergoing treatment in the Desun Hospital tested positive today. Among the three, who had travel history of Maharashtra and Delhi, two are from the Siliguri Municipal Corporation (SMC) area.