ICMR issues advisory on setting up new COVID-19 testing labs in districts

Topics Coronavirus | Lockdown

Currently, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has approved COVID-19 testing in more than 200 laboratories across the country.
In districts with no operational COVID-19 testing facility, setting up of a new centre will be considered if the number of suspected cases is more than 100 per day and the nearest testing laboratory is over 250 kms away in the plains and over 150 kms away in hilly regions, according to the ICMR.

Currently, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has approved COVID-19 testing in more than 200 laboratories across the country.

Based on new requests from several districts for initiation of COVID-19 testing, the ICMR has come up with an advisory for setting up new laboratories.

According to the advisory, a testing laboratory can be made operational in a district in case the nearest one is at the above-mentioned distance and the existing laboratories are testing at least 100 samples each per day. 

If the nearest testing laboratory is at the above-mentioned distance, not testing 100 samples per day and does not agree to test samples from the affected district, then it will be closed down and permission will be given to set up a new laboratory, it said.

To have a testing facility, the district should also have a BSL-2-level government laboratory, including a molecular biology setup for virological diagnosis and availability of staff with a good understanding of laboratory biosafety and biosecurity, and trained to handle respiratory samples for viral diagnosis among others.

"If a district has no government laboratory, but has a private laboratory which can apply for COVID-19 testing, the laboratory should have NABL accreditation and the scope of accreditation must include real-time PCR for respiratory viruses," the ICMR advisory stated.

Proofs of the mentioned requirements need to be submitted to the ICMR while applying for a new testing laboratory, including documents and photographs of the laboratory, it said. 

ICMR recommends antibody test for speedy detection of coronavirus cases

To ensure speedy detection of coronavirus cases, those residing in Covid-19 hotspots or areas which have reported large numbers of cases may have to undergo a rapid antibody blood test for the viral infection.

The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) in its interim advisory has recommended the use of the rapid antibody test in the country's coronavirus hotspots. The decision for the recommendation was taken at an emergency meeting of the National Task Force, formed to deal with the health crisis, held on Thursday. 

The Health Ministry has identified 20 existing and 22 potential Covid-19 hotpsots across the country.

The results of the antibody tests, similar to other blood tests, are available in 15-30 minutes.

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