22 private lab chains registered for coronavirus tests

The network has the capacity to test 12,000 samples daily

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Laboratory test chemical
Picture: Pixabay

NEW DELHI: At least 22 private laboratory chains with 15,500 collection centres all over the country have been registered with the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) till Tuesday for conducting COVID-19 tests, health ministry officials said.

Besides, 118 government laboratories have been included in the ICMR network of COVID-19 testing. The network has the capacity to test 12,000 samples daily. In the last five days, on an average, 1,338 samples have been tested by the government labs each day, an ICMR official said.

In Delhi, three private diagnostics – Lal Path Labs, Rohini; Dr Dangs Lab in Safdarjung Development Area and Laboratory Services, Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals in Sarita Vihar — have so far been given approval for conducting COVID-19 tests.

Gujarat, Assam, Jharkhand, Rajasthan, Goa, Karnatak, Madhya Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir are setting up hospitals for dedicated treatment of COVID-19 patients, the official said. According to the officials, the Health Ministry has initiated the process of identifying the manufacturers for procurement of personal protection equipment (PPEs)like N-95 masks and ventilators.

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The procurement has been initiated so that there is no shortage of any medical equipment or masks needed by doctors to provide services to the patients, a senior health ministry official said. The cabinet secretary held a detailed discussion with senior officials from the Defence Research Development Organisation, Bharat Electrical Limited and other key research organizations during which decisions were taken to promote indigenous manufacturing of ventilators.

Also, efforts are on to see if the prototype of a ventilator developed in AIIMS can be used across the country after making certain changes in it, the official said. The cabinet secretary has asked chief secretaries of the states to further enhance surveillance and contact tracing of positive cases in order to break the chain of transmission.

He has written to the chief secretaries suggesting that states should focus their efforts and financial resources on preparing the healthcare infrastructure to deal with this challenge, the official said. States should devote adequate resources for creating dedicated COVID-19 hospitals, equipping the medical institutes with PPEs, ventilators and other essential equipment etc, the cabinet secretary said.

All states have been asked to ensure that essential services and supplies remain open. These include hospitals, medical shops and establishments engaged in the manufacturing of medicines, vaccines, sanitizers, masks and medical devices.

They have been asked to mobilize the civil machinery under district magistrates to supplement surveillance and strengthen rapid response teams at the field level to ensure that no suspect and the high-risk person is left during surveillance.

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“Sates have been asked to enforce implementation of lockdown measures. It has been emphasized that partial implementation will not achieve the intended objective of preventing the spread of COVID-19,” he said. Speaking about the testing capacity of India, another official said that 118 government laboratories have been included in the ICMR network of COVID-19 testing.

The Centre issued guidelines recommending that the maximum rate for coronavirus tests by private laboratories should not be more than Rs 4,500 while appealing for free or subsidized testing in this hour of a national public health emergency.