Despite coronavirus restrictions being lessened, the pandemic is far from over. To ensure extra precaution in screening, especially when it comes to air-travel where people can potentially carry the disease from one state to another and sit in close proximity, the Kolkata airport will soon be equipped with a state-of-the-art medical laboratory to test for the deadly virus. It is expected to be functional and fully operative by mid-March.
“HLL Lifecare Ltd (HLL), a government of India enterprise, is in the process of setting up a Covid testing laboratory at the airport, the Times of India reported. The various equipment required for the laboratory have already arrived,” Kaushik Bhattacharjee, the airport director said. He added the facility will be set-up in Terminal-2. Once the base is laid down, it will be required to be approved by the National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories, the Indian Council of Medical Research and the West Bengal Clinical Establishments (Registration, Regulation and Transparency) Act, 2017.
There will be three categories of testing- Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR), TrueNat and Rapid Antigen Test (RAT).
The passenger on route to board a flight as well as those arriving at the airport from somewhere can use the facility.
It will be operational 24/7. According to HLL, it can test up to 150 passengers per hour in the initial days. They are starting with a 10-member team but if deemed necessary, the human resources shall be increased. HLL already has fully functional labs at airports in Mumbai and Chennai. This will be Kolkata’s first.
Formerly, swab collection at Kolkata airport was carried out by two private companies; Suraksha and Dr Lal’s Path Lab. These tests were limited to those travelling from the UK and arriving here without getting a test done first. When UK flights were suspended in lieu of the new Coronavirus variant, the facility was shut down. Leaving the airport without any testing opportunities for travellers.