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Year : 2021  |  Volume : 11  |  Issue : 5  |  Page : 230-236

The medical diagnostic laboratory: Bio-safety precautions for handling and processing of specimens during COVID-19 pandemic

Department of Biochemistry, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, New Delhi, India

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Seema Bhargava
Department of Biochemistry, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, New Delhi
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/cmrp.cmrp_35_21

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The coronaviruses are single-stranded RNA viruses, one of which is responsible for the current outbreak of coronavirus disease-19. COVID-19 has affected health-care workers including laboratory personnel worldwide in an alarming and unprecedented manner. In India too, the huge number of infected health-care staff has further weighed down our already over-burdened health-care system. While their protection is of paramount importance, it is also essential that these personnel adhere to the specific bio-safety practices to minimize their exposure to this disease. In this article, our objective is to provide guidelines for laboratories while working with COVID-19 samples to reduce the human and economic burden in the current pandemic. A risk assessment of all policies must be done and standard operating procedures on all 'Safe Laboratory Practices and Procedures' must be readily available for the staff. Dividing the laboratory functions into three broad phases, namely pre-examination, examination and post-examination, the precautions outlined for each stage must be followed stringently with the frequency defined as per the workload of the laboratory. The safety measures must cover all the laboratory processes including sample disposal. Decontamination too plays a major role and must be performed as per the standard national and international guidelines. Hence, following special precautions in the laboratory while working through the COVID-19 pandemic will not only minimize the risk of infection to the laboratory staff and but also help reduce the mortality and morbidity associated with this disease.

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