Private labs wait for govt go-ahead to launch coronavirus test kits

As the country’s apex medical research body has now revised testing guidelines for Covid-19 infections, the private sector diagnostic players said that they are ready with testing kits and the protocol. 

Multiple players said they are waiting for the final go-ahead from the government, including directives on pricing if any, to launch the diagnostic test kits. 

A Velumani, chairman of Thyrocare Technologies told Business Standard that the infrastructure was ready. 

“Our infrastructure is ready, the team is ready and the protocols are in place,” he said, adding that they were waiting for approvals from the government. 

Most leading diagnostic chains are importing the kits for testing and that would make the logistics also difficult. Mumbai-based Metropolis Healthcare, for example, has tested multiple kits and has zeroed in on one from Germany. 

Others like Delhi-based Dr Lal Pathlabs and SRL Diagnostics, a Fortis unit, are also waiting for official communication from the government before they can start testing. 

The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) on Saturday said all hospitalised patients who have pneumonia or severe acute respiratory illness (SARI) will be tested for Covid-19. SARI patients would have high fever, cough and shortness of breath as major symptoms. 

ICMR has also noted that anyone who has come in contact with a Covid-19 positive person should also be tested even if they do not show any symptoms.  So far India was testing people who had recently travelled abroad and subsequently showed symptoms, and people who had come in contact with these people and showed symptoms of Covid-19 infection.

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