PANAJI: Health Minister Vishwajit Rane on Saturday said that the Goa government is exploring the possibility to set up a laboratory in Goa Medical College and Hospital (GMC), Bambolim, for testing swab samples of new strain of novel Coronavirus.

Speaking to reporters after charing the Health Experts Committee meeting, Vishwajit said that GMC Dean Dr Shivanand Bandekar and doctors of Health Experts Committee have been asked to explore if testing for the second COVID-19 strain can be done in Goa, by purchasing the required machines, to reduce delays.

“We need to be self-sufficient and there is need for speed while testing,” Vishwajit said.

The Health Minister took review of the COVID-19 crisis and the measures taken so far to combat it. He said there is a need to increase testing facility and capability in the State and two more RTPCR machines with a capacity to test 1000 samples would be procured for North Goa and South Goa.

According to Vishwajit, present testing capacity for RT-PCR is 1860 and ideally Goa should be able to do 3000 RT-PCR tests.

He said that 966 UK travellers who returned Goa between 9th and 22nd December, 38 passengers tested positive and 26 contact detected positive and swab samples of others sent to NIV Laboratory, Pune, for confirmation of mutant strain are awaited.

Vishwajit also appealed to the people not to flour COVID-19 norms and to take adequate precautions such as wearing of face marks, use of hand sanitisers and maintaining social distancing to prevent spread of Coronavirus.