The pandemic arrived in the Northeast and peaked much later than in the rest of the country brought by returning migrant workers post lockdown. The curve is now flattening. The future trajectory of the pandemic is unknown, but it is likely to peak again. Assam reported more than 2 lakh COVID cases. The impact of the vaccine remains to be seen. To keep patients and staff safe, it has become imperative to test patients before initiating treatment and several times during the course of the treatment which often lasts several months. This is because patients with cancer in general tend to suffer more adverse consequences of COVID infection more so when they receive chemotherapy or radiation or undergo surgery. Also, interventional procedures, even the simple ones like suctioning and chest physiotherapy on infected patients, increase the risk of infecting staff who perform or assist in these procedures. The hospital started with one COVID ward with 20 beds and expanded to a 50-bed facility at the peak for taking care of COVID infected cancer patients and staff.

In the present context, the hospital had an urgent need to set up a COVID-19 testing lab to speed up testing and follow up testing to improve patient and staff safety. A team of volunteers were able to raise funds to set up a testing service for COVID-19 using Cartridge Based Nucleic Acid Amplification Test (CBNAAT) equipment. This is a type of Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) which requires less preparation than a conventional Real Time PCR (RT – PCR). Four (or multiples of four) samples can be tested every hour depending upon the configuration of the equipment. Post COVID, the equipment will be continued to be used for diagnosing infections and estimating viral loads (non COVID) and markers including genetic markers for identifying various cancers.

The hospital expects to conduct about 1000 tests a month costing approximately Rs. 26 lakhs (at Rs. 2600 per test). This is inclusive of the test kit, the PPE and other consumables. We seek your support for this.