Coronavirus gifts Kerala an accredited NIV
03 February 2020
Kerala, which has been depending on the National Institute of Virology in Pune to test samples in cases of new virus infections until now, will now start testing Coronavirus samples at the new National Virology Institute in Alappuzha, state health minister said today.
While the local lab was not authoridsed to test such cases, the minister said, as a measure to make the sample analysis of suspected Coronavirus cases quicker, Kerala will depend on the National Institute of Virology in Alappuzha instead of NIV Pune.
Despite the state having an NIV, there was no permission to test the samples and declare the results, and hence the state had been depending on NIV Pune for confirming the results. “We had sought permission to carry out the tests in Alappuzha NIV, and on Saturday we got the required permission. Samples have already been sent there. From today we will start testing at NIV Alappuzha,” the minister told media.
With almost all states across the country dependent on NIV Pune to test suspected coronavirus cases, rising workload has slowed down analysis at the institute, which delayed the final results.
Testing of pathogens like coronaviurus has to be carried out in facilities which are classified as Biosafety Level 4, and NIV Pune is the only such lab in the country. The Centre for Disease Control (CDC) classifies laboratories into different categories, starting from Biosafety Level (BSL) 1 to 4.
Laboratories classified as BSL 4 study extremely harmful pathogens, including Ebola, Nipah and Coronavirus. Strict hygienic measures and special conditions needed to test the microbes, will be in place in BSL 4 labs as organisms tested there are potentially fatal. Such facilities should be located in isolation in a separate building or in a restricted zone in a building.
NIV Pune is one such facility. NIV Alappuzha has now also been equipped with the facilities and conditions required to test the Coronavirus samples.
During the time when Kerala faced the Nipah virus outbreak in 2018 and in 2019, though tests were held simultaneously at NIV Pune, Manipal Institute of Virology and Alappuzha NIV, the official result could only be announced after the result came out from Pune. But at present, results which come from sample analysis from Alappuzha will be considered official.