The Union health ministry had on Tuesday issued guidelines for private sector laboratories intending to initiate COVID-19 testing while the ICMR appealed to them to conduct the tests free of cost.
After giving its nod to accredited private labs to conduct tests for coronavirus amid rising cases in the country, the ICMR is likely to soon issue instructions to them to cap the price of each test between Rs 4,500 and Rs 5,000, an official said on Friday.
The Union health ministry had on Tuesday issued guidelines for private sector laboratories intending to initiate COVID-19 testing while the ICMR appealed to them to conduct the tests free of cost. “It seems nobody is willing to do it free-of-cost and that is why private labs would be asked to cap the price of each test for COVID-19 between Rs 4500 and Rs 5,000,” the official said.
According to official sources, around 51 private laboratories have approached the government to allow them to start tests for the respiratory ailment which has infected 223 people and claimed four lives so far.
According to the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) guidelines for testing, laboratory tests for coronavirus at private labs should be offered when prescribed by a qualified physician. “Private labs testing is to ensure real time reporting to Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme (IDSP) and the ICMR headquarters for timely initiation of contact tracing and research activities,” ICMR Director General Balram Bhargava had said.
ICMR will share the standard operating procedure for laboratory testing and provide positive controls for establishing the test as soon as the private laboratory concerned has procured the primers, probes and reagents.
Adoption of commercial kits for testing should be based on validations conducted by the ICMR, National Institute of Virology (NIV) in Pune. Appropriate biosafety and biosecurity precautions should be ensured while collecting samples from suspected coronavirus patients.
At present the ICMR has equipped 72 of its laboratories to test for the pandemic. In addition to these labs, 49 more under organisations like Council of Scientific & Industrial Research, Department of Biotechnology, and Defence Research, Development Organisation would be equipped to test for coronavirus by end of this week, Bhargava said.
The ICMR will also be setting up two testing locations (NCR and Bhubaneswar) for high throughput diagnostic systems for exponentially increasing rapid diagnosing of the respiratory ailment.
These systems can test up to 1400 samples daily, he said.