Good news! India set to ramp up COVID-19 testing to 2 lakh tests daily; details

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Updated: May 26, 2020 1:08 PM

he daily average has recently crossed 1 lakh tests and the Centre wants the testing to be increased by both government and private laboratories.

Private players were asked to set a maximum charge of Rs 4,500 for the RT-PCR test.

Coronavirus testing: After more than trebling its daily testing for more than a month, India is set to ramp up its testing up to 2 lakh tests in a day! The daily average has recently crossed 1 lakh tests and the Centre wants the testing to be increased by both government and private laboratories. Private players had many times requested the central health officials to allow them to run COVID-19 tests in order to help, which they did get a clearance for. But even after two months, their contribution to overall testing in India remains on the lower end of 20 per cent, the IE reported. This, according to the report, has come despite making up for almost 30 per cent of overall testing infrastructure in India. The statistics highlighted by the report shows that while government labs tested almost 88,947 in a day between April 16 and May 23 (up 270 per cent from 23,932 tests a day), rate of testing in private labs have increased four times to 21,450 tests per day.

Coronavirus testing: How many government and private laboratories are currently testing for COVID-19?

To be sure, there are 431 government laboratories and 178 private laboratories that are currently testing for the novel Coronavirus. After an appeal by the government officials to make all tests free, private players were asked to set a maximum charge of Rs 4,500 for the RT-PCR test that confirms the presence of Coronavirus. Discussing the working of private players in testing, Arjun Dang, CEO, Dr Dang’s Lab, told the IE that private players have limitations of specialised equipment that is quite expensive along with manpower trained to handle Coronavirus testing and space which the government labs do not have. Private labs are sustained by routine testing which have now reduced significantly and with the Coronavirus outbreak, have come down to 18-20 per cent, Arjun Dang said.

Coronavirus testing: Social stigma a key issue for people

Apart from this, Dang explains, there is still a stigma in people for coming down to labs and therefore, they have to arrange testing via home collections and drive-throughs. These methods require many investments in terms of providing AC vehicles for transportations, manpower and PPEs, apart from those required within the labs, the report said. It can be further noted that COVID-19 stigma is restricting people to get themselves tested and with the low turnout of people for testing, the private labs are unable to meet the expenses.

Meanwhile, the report citing a government statement mentioned that the country currently has a testing capacity of 1.4 lakh which soon will be raised to 2 lakh samples in a day. The government is working to add on more testing facilities in several states including UP, Bihar and West Bengal. Currently, the number of cases in India have surged to 1.45 lakh and more are bound to come out with increased testing.

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