In a significant development, the National Institute of Virology (NIV), Pune, has given its stamp of approval to the Virus Research and Diagnostics Laboratory (VRDL) at the North Bengal Medical College and Hospital in Siliguri to carry out COVID-19 tests.

The microbiology department at the NBMCH has already received the COVID19 testing kits from the NIV, and sources said efforts were being made to start the tests from tomorrow itself.

NBMCH authorities said throat swab samples of suspected conronavirus patients will now be tested at the VRDL.

The samples used to be sent to the National Institute of Cholera and Enteric Diseases (NICED) in Kolkata for the tests. “Following the approval, we are expecting that the throat swab samples can undergo tests from tomorrow. Reports will be made available on the same day the tests are done,” said a doctor.

The state-of-the-art laboratory will also enable continuous monitoring of existing as well as new virus strains, experts said. Meanwhile, five persons were admitted in the isolation ward at the NBMCH till afternoon today.

Eight persons are presently undergoing treatment in the ward.

Mayor writes to chief secretary: Siliguri Mayor Asok Bhattacharya has requested the state chief secretary, Rajiva Sinha, to take steps for the up-gradation of the health infrastructure in north Bengal. In the letter he sent today, Mr Bhattacharya has urged Mr Sinha to ensure adequate number of ventilators, clinical lab facilities, medical equipment, and doctors in Siliguri.

Mr Bhattacharya said the civic body had stressed on proper conservency work in the town. He asked various voluntary organizations, which run ambulances and hearses, to disinfect them to minimise chances of infection from novel coronavirus.

Police appeal:Teams from the Enforcement Branch under the Siliguri Metropolitan Police (SMP) have been deployed to take action against hoarders during the lockdown period.

TMCP donates Rs 20,000: The TMCP unit at the North Bengal Dental College and Hospital has donated Rs 20,000 to the chief minister’s emergency relief fund to fight COVID-19. The college became the first college in the state to do so.