The Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) on Tuesday opened the testing of coronavirus (Covid-19) cases to private sector diagnostic laboratories to improve the process of thermal screening across the country.
The Ministry and ICMR have issued guidelines for private laboratories to conduct Covid-19 tests and urged these establishments to conduct the tests free of cost. The private centres would work under the domain of ICMR.
The ICMR has also revised the criteria for testing coronavirus patients. According to theinstitution, an individual should home quarantine himself/herself for 14 days if they develop symptoms. The ICMR is going to operationalise two rapid-testing laboratories, and 49 additional testing centres by the end of this week.
A rapid testing laboratory will be equipped to test as many as 1,400 samples each day. These high throughput systems will be set up one each in Delhi-NCR and Bhubaneswar to exponentially increasing rapid diagnosing of Covid-19. The additional 49 testing centres will be at various medical colleges and other places.
ICMR has tested at least 11,500 samples nationwide since January 21. So far, India has reported 137 confirmed positive cases of coronavirus. Out of this, 120 are active cases, 14 patients got cured and discharged and three people lost their lives due to the virus.
Guidelines for private sector laborato es intending to initiate COVD-19 testing:
Laboratory test should be only offered when prescribed by a qualified physician as per ICMR guidance for testing. Since the guidance evolves periodically, the latest revised version should be followed.
ICMR will share the SOPS for taboratory testing and provjde positive controls for establishing the test as soon as the concerned private laboratory has procured the primers, probes and reagents as per SOps. Adoption of commercial kits for testingshould be based on validations conducted by ICMR-National lnstitute of Virology (NlV), Pune.
Appropriate biosafety and biosecurity precautions should be ensured while collectangsamples from a suspect patient. Alternatively, a disease specific separate collection site may be created.
All the private testing laboratories ensure immediate/ real-time reporting to the state officiats of IDSP (Integrated Disease Surveillance Program of Govt of India) and ICMR headquarter for timely inatiation of contact tracing and research activities.
ICMR strongly appeals that private raboratories shourd offer Covid-19 diagnosis at no cost.