International travellers coming to India from ‘at risk’ countries will have to spend between three to eight hours on an average after landing at the international airports to complete the mandatory RT-PCR Covid-19 tests and get their test reports before exiting the airports. To deal with the Omicron variant of Covid-19 virus, the government has mandated RT-PCR tests at the international airports.
Mylab Discovery Solutions, Suburban Diagnostics, Metropolis Healthcare are among the diagnostic companies that have set up labs at the airports and are ramping up capacity to deal with the surge in testing volumes by adding more counters. Diagnostic service providers are offering two options for the travelers — the fast-PCR tests costing around Rs 4,500 for quicker results and the normal RT-PCR tests for around Rs 600.
Metropolis Healthcare has set up rapid RT-PCR test lab for screening for Covid-19. Suburban has added more counters at the Mumbai Airport. Mylab Discovery has one mobile van with automated testing equipment already stationed at the Mumbai airport and is adding one more van to expand the mobile testing van fleet. Mylab has also set up an automated lab at the Delhi airport.
While testing capacity is being expanded, the workload is expected to put pressure and increase time taken to release reports. Most labs would be collecting the samples at the airport and sending it to their centres for analysis. Hasmukh Raval, managing director and co-founder of Mylab said the mobile molecular lab stationed outside the airport would reduce the turnaround time significantly and would enable results in a few hours. “We want passengers to get their reports quickly and head out of the airport fast,” Raval said. Diagnostic companies would want to reduce passenger inconvenience as they would be exhausted after hours of flying and immigration procedures, but the situation demands that proper screening is done to protect the country, Raval said.
ICMR has approved Open system RTPCR, TrueNat, GeneXpert, RTLAMP, CRISPR/TATAMD CHECK/FELUDA, Abbott ID Now, Accula by Thermofisher, Rapid RTPCR and CoviDx DirectPlex for molecular testing of SARS-CoV-2.