COVID-19: For lab technicians, it’s a litmus test

Lab, tester, Testing, Covid 19
With India scaling up the tests for COVID-19, the limited number of testers in the country are racing against time to identify cases quickly. | Image - Eunice Dhivya

“There is (work) pressure, but we are not regretting it. We cannot be complacent to sit back and relax and say no, I need a break. That is not possible in this situation.”

For Dr Amrutha Kumari B, nodal officer of Virus Research and Diagnostics Laboratory (VRDL) and in-charge of COVID-19 test laboratory at Mysore Medical College and Research Institute (MMCRI) in Karnataka, the last 45 days have been quite hectic. Day and night since early March, her five-member team has been testing samples for coronavirus.

“We don’t know when it is night, when it is day. We almost end up putting in 14–16 hours every day,” she says.

Inside the lab, Kumari and her team work in biosafety cabinets — which are enclosed, air-conditioned workspaces lit well with tubes throughout the day. No light or air comes in from outside.

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