FMIPA Unand students volunteer for Covid-19 exam

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Volunteers who work in FK Unand’s laboratory. (Photo: Prive. Doc)

IO, Padang – The Integrated Diagnostic and Research Laboratory for Infectious Diseases at Faculty of Medicine, Andalas University (Unand) was appointed as a testing site for samples of SAR-CoV-2 virus (the cause of Covid-19), especially in West Sumatra, since March 24. The SAR-CoV-2 virus can only be detected and confirmed by a real-time polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) or quantitative PCR (qPCR) method, by swab technique. 

“Samples of patients from West Sumatra no longer need to be sent to the Balitbangkes of the Ministry of Health because testing can be carried out at Unand Faculty of Medicine,” said Unand Rector Prof. Dr. Yuliandri, SH, MH, as quoted by Unand PR, Saturday (04/25/2020). 

Laboratory results can be obtained in just 24 hours, making it easier for policymakers to handle patients suspected of carrying Covid-19. Three units of RT-PCR machines, two units of Biological Safety Cabinets (BSC) level 2, and other equipment are capable of examining 150 to 200 samples per day. 

Five of the 43 volunteers working in the laboratory are active students of the Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences (MIPA); the other four are alumni. “Volunteers from the Mathematics and Natural Sciences Faculty are coordinated by the Chemistry Department lecturer, Dr. Syafrizayanti,” said Deputy Dean 1 of FMIPA, Dr. Marzuki 

The five students were Fani Betasri, Monica Mulnia Hanif and Ashrifurrahman from the Department of Biology, Cori Yolanda from the Department of Chemistry, while Bayu Afnovandra Perdana, M.Si were doctoral students in the Department of Chemistry. “Four graduates were involved: Juane Plantika Menra from the Chemistry Department, and Hidayatul Fajri, Dian Juliadmi, Sisca Dwi Yarni from the Biology Department,” he said. 

He added that volunteers worked every day, even on holidays, with varying tasks. Syafrizayanti served as the result validator, accompanying Juane Plantika Menra, who was already a qPCR expert. Other volunteers served as analysts, while Ashrifurrahman and Bayu Afnovandra also worked as K3 (“Keamanan, Kesehatan, dan Keselamatan Kerja”) personnel. 

As the number of positive Covid-19 patients in Indonesia increases, volunteers are now urgently needed. “This is not an easy job; they are humanitarian fighters. When carrying out work in the field, they are required to wear personal protective equipment (PPE) for 6-7 hours each shift, which is very uncomfortable,” he said. 

He hopes that these humanitarian fighters and all medical staff will continue to be enthusiastic and maintain their health. (*/est)