New Delhi: Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), the apex health research body of the country, activated more laboratories to test for COVID-19 and revised the testing criteria for the same. The Council has equipped 72 of its laboratories to test for the pandemic.
Prof (Dr) Balram Bhargava, Secretary, Department of Health Research & Director General, ICMR, said, "We, at ICMR, are regularly monitoring community transmissions. Our labs are looking at random samples of patients who suffer from influenza-like illnesses, severe acute respiratory illness for the presence of the COVID-19.”
So far, he said these results are negative. The ICMR is in a talks with high-quality private labs including labs accredited by National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories (NABL) to understand the modalities of increasing access to the test in the endeavour to prepare for future.
In addition to these labs 49, more laboratories under organisations like Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR), Department of Biotechnology (DBT) and Defense Research, Development Organization (DRDO) would be equipped to test for COVID-19 by the end of this week.
The ICMR will also be setting up two testing locations (NCR and Bhubaneswar) for high throughput diagnostic systems for exponentially increasing rapid diagnosing of COVID-19. These systems can test up to 1400 samples in a day.
Bhargava said the ICMR had revised the testing criteria for COVID-19 under which an individual should home quarantine himself for 14 days if he qualifies for the following conditions:
1. Direct close physical contact of laboratory-confirmed positive case
2. History of travel in the last 14 days to high-risk COVID-19 affected countries
In addition to these conditions, if a healthcare worker managing respiratory distress/severe acute respiratory illness shows symptoms of acute respiratory illness, he/she should get a laboratory test for COVID-19. If a case is tested positive, he/she should be isolated and treated as per the standard protocol.