RT-PCR lab in Rubesa, Wangdue begins testing

More than 350 samples that were collected from Punakha and Wangdue were tested as of February 1 

The RT-PCR (Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction) laboratory, which is expected to enhance testing in Wangduephodrang, has become operational and more than 350 samples collected from Wangduephodrang and Punakha were tested as of February1.

The laboratory started testing the samples the very next day after it was established by the Ministry of Health (MoH) on January 30. The newly set up laboratory, which started functioning from the night of January 31, is manned by three technical staff and other supporting staff.

Talking to Business Bhutan, clinical microbiologist and a member of the MoH’s Technical Advisory Group (TAG), Dr. Tshokey said that setting up of the laboratory and machines took time to calibrate the settings which delayed the functioning.

“Only samples collected from Punakha and Wangdue will be tested in the laboratory because we just have one machine. It will cater to only routine testing,” he said.

He added that for any other reasons, if there is mass testing then, the newly established laboratory will not be able to cater and the samples need to be brought to the Royal Center for Disease Control (RCDC) in Thimphu.

However, for day-to-day testing, the laboratory can handle it. 

According to Dr. Tshokey, the laboratory is set up in Rubesa at the Regional Livestock Development Centre (RLDC) and not in Wangdue hospital as it needed a minimal number of rooms and essential equipment for a molecular laboratory.

He said that not any space will be enough.

Meanwhile, Rubesa is five kilometers away from Wangduephodrang town.

The RT- PCR laboratory was established in Rubesa due to the increasing Covid-19 cases in the central and western regions of the country.  There are today seven Covid-19 testing centers across the country, which include the RCDC in Wangchutaba, Serbithang in Thimphu, JDWNRH, Phuentsholing Hospital, Eastern Regional Referral Hospital (ERRH) in Mongar, Central Regional Referral Hospital (CRRH) in Gelephu, Dewathang Hospital, Samdrupjongkhar, and the Regional Livestock Development Center (RLDC) in Wangdue.

Chencho Dema from Punakha