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1 lakh tests per day in the pipeline: ICMR

On Monday, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) stated that it is planning to scale up testing capacity to 100,000 tests per day in coming months. At present, India has a capacity to test 18,000 samples for the novel coronavirus per day across 136 government laboratories and 56 private laboratories.

Gearing up for the ‘worst-case scenario’, the nation’s top health research body has chalked out a roadmap for Covid-19 testing and is making arrangements to add 200 additional labs for round-the-clock testing through RT-PCR machines amid spike in cases in the country. Further, two high throughput machine Cobass6800 have been made functional that can test as many as 1,400 samples at a time. 

Other interventions to augment testing that the council is working on include: moving to 24×7 working model at existing labs, to test more samples, coordinating with states to increase manpower for various functions, and optimising in-lab processes such as RNA extraction to reduce turnaround time between sample receipt and testing. To bolster the disease surveillance and detection, the country has decided to use CBNAAT diagnostic test (GeneXpert) currently used for testing tuberculosis (TB) to test Covid-19 by modifying the cartridge-based nuclei acid amplification test. 

Further, an empowered group, constituted by the home affairs ministry, is also on its toes to scale up testing in India.