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July 4, 2020

KTH gets new PCR machine for coronavirus testing

Peshawar

July 4, 2020

PESHAWAR: The World Health Organization (WHO) on Friday provided a state-of-the-art PCR machine for corona investigations to Khyber Teaching Hospital (KTH) Peshawar.

WHO had already provided two modern PCR machines to KTH and enabled the tertiary care hospital to initiate investigations of the corona patients on their premises. Capacity of the two previous PCR machines was, however, limited and those could conduct up to 70 to 80 investigations in 24 hours. The new machine is having capacity of 300 investigations per 24 hours, according to the KTH media manager Farhad Khan. “The previous machine would conduct eight to nine investigations in one circle. The new machine can do 96 investigations in a single circle and would help us overcome patients’ burden,” he said. The two small machines had developed a technical fault on July 1, prompting the KTH administration to send the samples to the Khyber Medical University (KMU). WHO donates equipment to the public sector hospitals through the health department, mostly via the health directorate of KP government. The KTH administration was in negotiations with the health directorate to help them facilitate earlier delivery of the important machine, but due to lethargic behaviour of the officials, the process got delayed. The issue was brought to the knowledge of Health Minister Taimur Saleem Jhagra and his intervention expedited the delivery process and enabled the KTH administration to get the machine.

There is only a single counter where patients had to get themselves registered for submitting swab and the place where patients are required to submit their swab is pathetic. There is no proper place in KTH where patients can wait, particularly the females and elderly people, and submit their swab accordingly. They had to wait at an entrance of a ward meant for Covid-19 patients and would call the technician to collect their swab. The KMU laboratory, called Public Health Reference Laboratory, has emerged the largest lab in Pakistan, and is presently sharing burden of the majority of Covid-19 patients in KP.

There are more than 100 laboratories in Pakistan conducting corona investigations, including 43 laboratories in Sindh, almost a similar number in Punjab, eight or nine in KP, four in Balochistan and the majority in Islamabad. And in these laboratories, 22,000 investigations are carried out on a daily basis, almost 220 per laboratory. In the KMU laboratory, around 1500 investigations are done in 24 hours, almost seven per cent of the total number of tests undertaken in the country. There is only one laboratory in Punjab that has been conducting more than 1000 investigations in 24 hours but that isn’t located in a university, still less than the number of investigations done in the KMU lab.

There are many other scientists in the KMU whose contributions are matchless during the pandemic but some of them including Dr Ishaq, and Dr Matiullah are wildly appreciated. They had worked nonstop in the night shift in the KMU laboratory for three months. And besides others, Prof Dr Jawad played a key role in initiating and upgrading the Covid-19 investigations. They had been working in three shifts and Prof Dr Jawad is constantly supervising the overall process in the laboratory.

There are laboratories installed in different districts of the province but the investigations from Nowshera, Charsadda, Swabi, Mohmand, Bajaur, Peshawar, etc, are sent to the KMU laboratory. And when there is any problem to the machines in Abbottabad and Swat, the samples are sent to KMU.