Three employees of the National Institute of Virology (NIV) in Kerala's Alappuzha have reportedly tested positive for the novel coronavirus. A report by 24 News said that all the employees who worked in the same shift as the three infected persons had to go under observation.
The lab, which had started testing the novel coronavirus samples since February, has now cut short the number of tests.
Instructions have been given to only send samples from other districts which need to be tested urgently. It's also been instructed to increase the number of antigen tests (which can be done in a batch and is often used as a preliminary test for RT-PCR). The NIV had been working for 24 hours in three shifts. With a whole shift now under observation for COVID-19, these changes had to be immediately put in place.
Scientist and officer in charge, AP Sugunan told the Times of India that the number of tests has reduced from 1,000 to 400. There are now only six or seven staff left to do the work, with 15 staff being under quarantine. He said that the infection came from outside, and not from within the lab.
Alappuzha District Medical Officer (DMO) Anithakumari said that this will not affect the total number of tests in the district since samples can be taken to the Kottayam Medical College's lab.
On Monday, 199 new cases of the coronavirus were reported from Alappuzha. Out of these, only four were imported cases of people coming from other states. The rest got it through contact. As of now, there are 5,341 active cases in the district. With 387 patients testing negative for the virus on Monday, a total of 11,692 recoveries have been recorded in Alappuzha.
Meanwhile, the state reported 5,042 new cases on Monday - considerably less than the numbers in previous days, owing to lesser number of tests - 38,696 samples. A total of 84,873 patients are under treatment for COVID-19 in the state. With 4,640 recoveries reported on Monday, as many as 1,49,111 people have defeated the disease so far. However, 23 more deaths due to COVID-19 were confirmed on Monday.
Watch: NIV gets nod for coronavirus testing in February