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Aug 17, 2009

Govt names five pvt labs in state for H1N1 testing


The Tamil Nadu government on Saturday announced its decision to authorise five private laboratories, including three in Chennai, to testsamples for A(H1N1). The decision is part of the preventive measures initiated by the state to check the spread of the deadly virus. In Tamil Nadu, 57 persons have tested positive so far, and one, a four-year-old boy succumbed to the virus.

Health secretary VK Subburaj said in a statement that the government has recognised Bharath Scans, Royapettah; Hightech DiagnosticCentre, T Nagar; and Diagnostic Service, Burkit Road in Chennai, Micro Lab in Coimbatore and Doctor Rath's Lab in Tiruchi in the first phase. Persons with suspected symptoms can approach these labs and get their throat and nasal swabs tested.

Stating that these private laboratories had been granted recognition after an inspection by a team of experts, Subburaj said more labs would be authorise to test for H1N1 based on the report by the expert team. On Saturday, the team visited the Sri Ramachandra University in the city.

The health secretary said there was a delay in releasing the test results for samples given at the King Institute in Chennai, the only testing centre in the state so far, because of the large number of patients, with complaints of just fever, queuing up in its premises.

Subburaj said there was no need for all those who have fever to do the test for A (H1N1) virus. The throat and nasal swabs could be tested only if they have other symptoms of the H1N1 flu
besides fever, he said.Though the King Institute tested 1,500 samples in the last three days, only two proved positive taking the total to 57. While there were no specific reasons for the number of positive cases remaining static, officials say that awareness level has been on the rise. But people have been queuing up at hospitals even for simple fever or common cold.

Officials at the directorate of public health said the state was gearing up for the monsoon when the flu cases are likely to go up as the virus could be more virulent then. "It is the time of the year when we have more common flu cases. There can also be outbreaks of mosquito and water borne diseases. We are preparing ourselves," said director of public health Dr S Elango.

Meanwhile, the state government has trained staff and lab technicians from all the medical college hospitals and district headquarters' hospitals to take swabs and test them. The government has also despatched required equipment for testing samples. The swabs would be taken at the government hospitals and they would be sent to King Institute, Chennai, Christian Medical College, Vellore and JIPMER, Puducherry.

Soon after the visit of central experts to see the preparedness of the state in handling the epidemic, a senior IAS officer, Jose Cyriac who has been appointed as the nodal officer to the State by the union health ministry on Friday visited Chennai and held discussions with senior officials.Besides the private laboratories, the state health department plans to set up three more labs in the government medical colleges in Madurai, Tirunelveli and Coimbatore to handle the situation in the districts.

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