Updated: March 17, 2020 6:29:17 pm
The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has announced doubling of the testing laboratories for novel coronavirus cases in the country as the number of positive cases reached 137 and a third death linked to COVID-19 was reported from Maharashtra.
“By the end of this week, there will be 72 functional ICMR labs for COVID-19 testing and also 49 others in the government system – these are DBT, DRDO, CSIR and government medical colleges will start testing. We are also in talks with 51 NABL accredited private laboratories to start testing. On behalf of ICMR we appeal to them to give the tests free of cost in national interest,” Dr Balram Bhargava, secretary, Department of Health Research said. Follow coronavirus LIVE updates here
He also said that two laboratories with the capacity of processing 1,400 samples each per day are being readied. More of these machines are being procured, he said.
On private laboratories, Bhargava said that SOPs have already been put together and laboratories will have to notify real-time the results of the tests.
The testing criteria has now been expanded to include health workers caring for COVID-19 patients who start showing symptoms. Earlier it was limited to symptomatic people with travel or contact history to infected countries or persons.
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Senior scientist Dr Nivedita Gupta said probes have been distributed to 51 ICMR laboratories across the country for the confirmatory test. She also confirmed that the first batch of 500 tests done for testing community transmission of the disease of samples from patients without travel or contact history have all tested negative.
India has also formally conveyed to the WHO country office in India that the “test test test” prescription of Director General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus is premature for India as it is still in the phase of local transmission.
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