In a bid to ramp up its testing capacity amid rising cases of coronavirus in the country, the ICMR has invited applications from all government and private medical colleges for establishing COVID-19 testing facilities. In its notice, the apex health research body said all medical colleges with infrastructure and expertise which includes availability of a BSL-2 level laboratory facility including a molecular biology setup for virological diagnosis and a functioning and calibrated biosafety cabinet type 2A/2B in the laboratory can apply.
Besides, they will have to have cold centrifuge/microfuge for RNA extraction, a functioning and calibrated real-time PCR machine and a minimum staff including a medical microbiologist and technicians among others.
The staff should have good understanding of laboratory biosafety and biosecurity, trained for handling respiratory samples for viral diagnosis, RNA extraction and real-time PCR, besides having experience of working in virology and handling clinical specimens, especially respiratory samples, the Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) said.
Additionally, for all applicants from private medical colleges, it is essential to submit a copy of the National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories (NABL) accreditation certificate and scope of accreditation for real-time PCR for RNA viruses, the ICMR said.
The health research body also listedequipment and consumable requirements for setting up a real time Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) testing facility. Head of Epidemiology and Communicable diseases atICMR Raman R Gangakhedkar on Wednesday said 1,21,271 tests for COVID-19 have been done in the country so far.
Out of these, 13,345 tests were conducted on Tuesday and2,267 tests out of those have been done in private labs. He further informed that 139 labs under the ICMR network are currently functional in the country while 65 private laboratories have been given approval for conducting COVID-19 tests.
The death toll dueto the novel coronavirus rose to 149 and the number of cases climbed to 5,274 in the country on Wednesday, registering an increase of 485 cases in the last 24 hours, according to the Union Health Ministry.
The death toll on Tuesday evening was 124. However, a PTI tally of figures reported by various states as on Wednesday evening showed at least 5,521 cases and 172 deaths while 500 were discharged.
There has been a lag in the Union Health Ministry figures, compared to the number of cases announced by different states, which officials attribute to procedural delays in assigning the cases to individual states.