As the confirmed cases are rapidly rising across the country, India is gearing up for a bigger fight against COVID-19 pandemic. As part of expanding the rapid testing facilities, Indian Medical Council of Medical Research has already approved 157 laboratories in the country. While the total number of confirmed infection cases have crossed 900, some 78 patients have been cured and discharged from hospitals, according to government sources.
Of the 157 rapid testing labs approved in the country, 121 are government laboratories in which 109 are currently operational and 12 laboratories are in the process of being operationalized. In addition to this, there are 35 private labs are also been accredited for carrying out the tests as per the ICMR norms. These are in Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Chandigarh, Chhattisgarh, Delhi, Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir and Jharkhand.
The government is also expected to increase the testing capacity for COVID-19 further on a regular basis.
Addressing a press conference, Joint Secretary, Health, Lav Agarwal had earlier said that 29 private laboratory chains, already accredited by the ICMR for conducting tests for novel coronavirus have a collective network of 16,000 collection centers across the country and can handle at least 12,000 tests per day.
These private labs will have to follow ICMR norms while testing for COVID-19. However, people who need to be tested have to fit in the criteria prescribed by the ICMR. According to the ICMR, the criteria include symptoms that include fever, sore throat, runny nose, dyspnea, etc or individuals returned from affected countries like China, Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Iran, Italy, close contact with confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 infection, all individuals evacuated and quarantined from Wuhan, China and Diamond Princess ship, Japan and other coronavirus affected countries.While, the National Institute of Virology (NIV), Pune functions as the resource center for the Viral Research and Diagnostic Laboratories (VRDL) network and is responsible for providing technical training for performing molecular and serological assays for virological diagnosis. NIV, Pune also performs the important task of standardizing assay procedures for the network as well as quality control and quality assurance activities.