Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma. (File image)

Assam health minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Saturday inaugurated the eighth Covid -19 testing facility at North East Institute of Science and Technology (NEIST) in Jorhat.

Addressing media persons, Sarma said this was the first facility outside of the six medical colleges in the state and the laboratory of Indian Council of Medical Research at Lahowal on outskirts of Dibrugarh town which would aid in testing of the novel coronavirus.

Sarma said this would further aid in the state’s fight against the killer virus.

“We have till date tested 85,000 people and within two or three days hope to achieve the target of 1 lakh. This laboratory at NEIST will further the testing capacity,” the minister said.

He said the state was indebted to the director and dedicated scientists of NEIST for coming forward at this hour of crisis with such a facility.

Sarma further informed that by June 15 the state hoped to have at least 12 testing facilities.

These would be the Indian Institute of Advance Science at Guwahati,  Diphu Medical College, DRDO, Tezpur and another one at Gauhati Medical College and Hospital.

The minister said Assam had been so far successful in staving off an epidemic due to testing and strict enforcement of quarantine facilities.

“Those returning from outside the state and testing positive are mostly young workers who are recovering but if they are not quarantined and would be allowed to go and mix with the elders in their villages then the situation would have gone out of hand,” he said.

The director of NEIST G Narahari Sastry had earlier said that as the research laboratory had expertise in micro biology and molecular biology with required laboratory facilities and government laboratories operational under CSIR were authorized to take up testing of Covid 19, an initiative to set up the laboratory was undertaken.

Dr Sastry said the laboratory would be able to carry out tests on nearly 100 samples within 3 to 4 hours under the RT-PCR (reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction) method.

Sarma later went to Jorhat Medical College and Hospital, where four patients who had earlier tested positive for Covid 19, were released.

Jorhat deputy commissioner Roshni AKorati said with five new cases testing positive on Saturday, the total cases in the district reached 67 in JMCH.

Smita Bhattacharyya

Smita Bhattacharyya is Northeast Now Correspondent in Jorhat. She can be reached at: triptyaddy@gmail.com