A modern molecular biology laboratory for clinical diagnosis was enabled in the Urabá subregion, Antioquia, to carry out epidemiological monitoring of the health emergency caused by the coronavirus. This new space that opens its doors was built in the facilities of the Colombian Institute of Tropical Medicine (ICMT) of the CES University and the Government of Antioquia, in the municipality of Apartadó, in an effort of the University-Company-State-Society alliance .
The Government of Antioquia notified the ICMT on July 7 of the authorization with the respective designation as a collaborating laboratory in the Urabá subregion for the molecular diagnosis of the SARS-CoV2 virus.
This is the Molecular Biology laboratory that will start with 44 daily diagnoses, but in the medium term it will have an installed capacity to process 100 tests, which include RNA extraction and amplification for the diagnosis of SARS-CoV-2 by RT-PCR. It has 128 square meters in which it meets the technical and design conditions to avoid contamination of samples and safely handle infection agents. For example, access to the laboratory and its work areas is regulated by a system of locks, and has independent work areas, an emergency shower and an eyewash shower, among others.
To carry out scientific work under strict protection and biosafety standards, the site is divided into five independent areas, two of them with biosafety level II (BSLII) for the unpacking of samples and RNA extraction, two clean areas for preparation of solutions and for the reaction mix and another for the RT-PCR processing.
“With this new space, the ICMT assumes the inherent responsibility of being a laboratory attached to the network of public health laboratories, following the guidelines of the National Institute of Health (INS) and the Antioquia Department of Public Health Laboratory (LDSP) . The laboratory will be endorsed for the processing of SARS-CoV-2 samples for the Urabá region ”, stated Luis Ernesto López Rojas, general director of the ICMT.
The new facilities will have an interdisciplinary team of the highest scientific qualities, made up of: four bacteriologists, a laboratory assistant and a nursing assistant dedicated to the diagnosis of SARS-CoV-2 and complementary quality management activities, information, records and sample preparation.
"There will also be installed capacity to strengthen epidemiological surveillance from other endemic pathologies in the region that are complex diagnoses such as leptospirosis, arbovirosis, and other bacterial zoonoses, once the state of contingency is overcome," added Margarita Arboleda Naranjo , coordinator of the Apartadó headquarters ICMT.
The construction, endowment and start-up of the laboratory at the ICMT required an investment of more than $ 1,500 million pesos, contributions from unions, businessmen, individuals, the region's mayors at the initiative of the University-Company-State-Society Committee (CUEES) Urabá, the solidarity fund administered by the Diocese of Apartadó, the ICMT, the CES University and the Departmental Laboratory of Public Health of the Government of Antioquia.