ICMR approves 121 govt labs for COVID-19 test as India death toll reaches 18

Nurses and medical staff distribute protective facemasks to patients coming to the outdoor patient department (OPD) for an awareness event about the COVID-19 coronavirus and other airborne diseases at the Siliguri District Government hospital in Siliguri on February 21, 2020. (Photo by DIPTENDU DUTTA / AFP) (Photo by DIPTENDU DUTTA/AFP via Getty Images)

NEW DELHI : The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) on Friday (March 27, 2020) said that it has approved as many as 121 government laboratories to conduct tests for deadly novel coronavirus, which has claimed more than 23,000 lives globally and 18 in India as of now. In addition, there are 35 private labs across the country for conducting the tests, the ICM announced on its website.
These are in Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Chandigarh, Chhattisgarh, Delhi, Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, and Jharkhand. With this, the total number of facilities for testing suspected coronavirus patients has increased to 157, both private and government.
“The National Institute of Virology (NIV), Pune functions as the resource centre for the Viral Research and Diagnostic Laboratories (VRDL) network and is responsible for providing technical training for performing molecular and serological assays for virological diagnosis.
NIV, Pune also performs the important task of standardizing assay procedures for the network as well as quality control and quality assurance activities,” the ICMR said. It may be noted that the World Health Organisation has stressed upon testing during the coronavirus outbreak across the world.
Addressing a press conference on Wednesday, Joint Secretary, Health, Lav Agarwal had said, “There are 29 private laboratory chains, accredited by the ICMR, for conducting tests for novel coronavirus. These labs have 16,000 collection centres across the country, where at least 12,000 tests can be conducted per day.”

Agarwal said that the private labs will have to follow ICMR norms while testing. According to the ICMR norms, criteria for testing includes symptoms like fever, sore throat, runny nose, dyspnoea etc or that individuals have returned from affected countries like China, Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Iran, Italy etc.

The criteria also include close contacts of confirmed positive cases of corona infection, individuals evacuated and quarantined from Wuhan, China and Diamond Princess ship, Japan and other coronavirus-affected countries.
The number of coronavirus cases in the country crossed 724 as per the Health Ministry as more cases were reported in Maharashtra, Telangana and Andamans on Friday morning. The death toll due to COVID-19 stands at 18 with a 65-year-old woman, resident of Govandi, one of Maharashtra’s slum pockets, being the latest victim.

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