Doctors use Tuberculosis testing machines to screen coronavirus cases

Around 26,000 patients in Maharashtra were screened for coronavirus (COVID-19) using the chip-based RT-PCR which has been used in screening Tuberculosis cases.

Doctors use Tuberculosis testing machines to screen coronavirus cases

The number of coronavirus cases has seen a rise in Maharashtra, and the state continues to be the most-affected with COVID-19 infection. As per reports, a few doctors across the state have used a portable medical device, TrueNat, to screen coronavirus cases in 26,000 patients, and results showed that 20 per cent of the tests were positive. The device was earlier designed to screen tuberculosis (TB). Observing this, the state health department may consider the test in cases of emergency as it shows the outcome in merely 20 minutes.

The RT-PCR test kit used two steps for preliminary diagnosis, where the first involves screening E-gene and the second involves a follow-up assay to of an enzyme found in the virus. So far, the tests have shown 29 per cent positive results, where more than 7600 samples were tested for the gene. It is reported that more than 90 per cent samples tested positive for coronavirus, however, an official confirmation regarding the same is yet to be released.

Currently, a limited number of TrueNat tests are being conducted in comparison to other tests, however, officials plan to increase the same, owing to the results. Experts have confirmed that the test also known as GeneXpert test, will be beneficial for a quick screening process and in cases where portability is a priority. Containment zones with mobile testing centres can make the most of this test, where samples can be collected and sent for further tests.

Officials at the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation spoke to the Hindustan Times and confirmed the benefits of the test. A senior official from the BMC said that

Both CB-NAAT and TrueNat are cost-efficient options when compared to other RT-PCR tests currently used. One important aspect of TrueNat is the function of running on a battery which avoids the need of air conditioning and electricity, and with these benefits, officials can consider using it in containment zones or necessary areas for screening COVID-19 cases.

Moreover, hospitals have been asked to consider using this machine for diagnosis and in cases of emergency, which can be used to screen suspected coronavirus cases, as quicker results, and early diagnosis can help in improved medical intervention.

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