In Mysuru District 2,54,587 COVID tests have been conducted till Oct. 20 out of which 1,00,613 have been tested at MMC&RI Microbiology Laboratory (K.R. Hospital). Out of that, 89,589 patients belonged to Mysuru District while 11,024 were from neighbouring districts. Of the total 9,295 positive cases, 8,926 persons belonged to Mysuru District and 369 to other Districts.
When COVID-19 pandemic struck the country none knew about the deadly virus. The situation was like groping in the dark. The healthcare system was not at all ready to deal with that alien virus which had already claimed thousands of lives in China. At this juncture, Krishna Rajendra Hospital (K.R. Hospital), popularly known as ‘Doddaspatre’ among lakhs of people of Mysuru, Chamarajanagar, Mandya and Kodagu districts, was vested with the responsibility of conducting tests to detect Coronavirus among people. Rising to the occasion, the K.R. Hospital has now achieved a milestone of completing one lakh COVID tests since March this year and has helped the State Government in the detection of positive cases.
The man behind this successful mission, Dr. C.P. Nanjaraj, Dean and Director, Mysore Medical College and Research Institute (MMC&RI), shared his views with Star of Mysore on achieving this rare feat. He also profusely thanked the entire staff for working day and night to fight against this pandemic in the last seven months. Excerpts. — Ed
By Shyam Sundar Vattam
Star of Mysore: How do you feel about this achievement of crossing one lakh testing so far?
Dr. C.P. Nanjaraj: I am feeling very happy about this feat. During the initial days of Corona positive cases, ours was the only well-equipped laboratory to conduct COVID-19 test. All the samples collected from Kodagu, Chamarajanagar, Chikkamagalur and Mandya districts were coming to our laboratory for testing. That was stopped once the State Government set up RT-PCR Testing Centres in those districts. Meanwhile, we stepped up daily testing. Initially we were focusing more on Rapid Antibody Test (RAT) for immediate detection of positive cases. But once we came to know about the community spread of this pandemic, the Government asked all its Hospitals to go for RT-PCR for more accurate results. Besides, the required manpower and testing kits were supplied right in time to deal with the situation.
SOM: What about staff deployment during initial days as many had feared contracting virus even while conducting tests?
Dr. Nanjaraj: You are true. Between March and May, our nursing staff worked for ten days and quarantined for five days. Subsequently, they came out of their fear, thanks to PPE kits that gave them maximum protection from contracting the virus. They started working in three shifts. Each shift consists of a Microbiologist, Data Entry Operators and Technicians among others.
Earlier, we were conducting around 1,000 RT-PCR tests daily and then it was ramped up to 1,600 to 1,700 cases. A new equipment called ‘Liquid Handling System’ is being installed with which we can conduct up to 4,000 tests daily and also can give results faster.
SOM: How efficient is the laboratory in your Institute?
Dr. Nanjaraj: This is one of the best laboratories among all Hospitals as 23 kinds of viruses can be tested here. This was set up in 2016 with the assistance of Government of India, thanks to the initiative of Mysuru-Kodagu MP Pratap Simha. Now, the same facility is used to conduct COVID-19 test.
SOM: Why were people from other places coming to K.R. Hospital despite having Hospitals in their respective districts?
Dr. Nanjaraj: Till date, lakhs of people of Mysuru and neighbouring districts have lot of faith on our Hospital that they will get better treatment than private hospitals. For this reason, Corona positive patients come here for testing and treatment. Residents of Srirangapatna, Pandavapura, Malavalli come to K.R.Hospital though they technically belonged to Mandya district. We have never stopped them from coming. We are providing the best available treatment to one and all. Nearly 70 per cent of population have reposed faith in our ‘Doddaspatre’. We are having 33 Departments in both Post-Graduate and Under-Graduate level and good infrastructure with which they have been able to treat patients.
SOM: Is it true that Corona has now spread to community?
Dr. Nanjaraj: Yes. This has happened long ago. The Government of India also changed the concept of Containment and Quarantine by suggesting Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) time and again. People have to live with this virus. The Union Health Ministry comes out with SOPs regularly depending upon the prevailing situation. The concept of Containment Zone has been scrapped. Patients were given the option of Home Quarantine or Institutional Quarantine depending upon the seriousness of the pandemic.
SOM: In Bengaluru, thousands of persons have gone untraceable after testing Corona positive. Has it happened here too?
Dr. Nanjaraj: Around 1,500 persons, who tested Corona positive, have gone missing. Mobile phone numbers given by them have been either switched off or out of coverage area. Most of them are learnt to be from other districts. But efforts are on to trace them to prevent them from spreading to others. At a time when Private Hospitals were charging lakhs of rupees on treatment of Corona positive patients, the State Government was bearing the treatment cost of every patient in Covid Care Centres or District Covid Hospitals.
SOM: As Head of an oldest Hospital, what is your suggestion to general public?
Dr. Nanjaraj: I earnestly appeal to everyone to strictly follow the Government of India guidelines such as wearing mask, hand hygiene and social distancing. Clinical trials of several candidates are going on and they are in different stages. A suitable vaccine is expected in next two to three months. Till then the citizens must be very careful.