Follow Us:

ICMR invites applications from medical colleges for setting up COVID-19 testing facilities

The death toll due to the novel coronavirus rose to 166 and the number of cases climbed to 5,734 in the country on Thursday.

SNS | New Delhi |

After it announced its plans to increase the testing ability of the country on Monnday, the Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) has invited applications from all government and private medical colleges for establishing COVID-19 testing facilities in an attempt to ramp up its testing capacity amid rising cases of coronavirus in the country.

In its notice, the top 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 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 listed equipment and consumable requirements for setting up a real time Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) testing facility.

Head of Epidemiology and Communicable diseases at ICMR Raman R Gangakhedkar on Wednesday said 1,21,271 tests for COVID-19 have been done across the country so far. Out of these, 13,345 tests were conducted on Tuesday and 2,267 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 Indian Council of Medical Research on Monday said it was planning several interventions which include scaling-up testing capacity to one lakh tests/day in the coming months. The ICMR has approved over 200 labs (both public and private) for COVID-19 testing through-PCR machines.

“We are also identifying other government and private labs, research institutes and medical colleges which have the capability and infrastructure to undertake COVID-19 testing and are in conversation with them to include them in the testing network,” the top health research body said.

The ICMR is also considering other interventions such as moving to 24×7 working model at existing labs, coordinating with states to increase manpower for various functions including data-entry, re-deploying automated and manual-PCR machines already in the country to aid COVID-19 testing effort, and optimising in-lab processes such as RNA extraction to reduce turnaround time between sample receipt and testing, it said.

The death toll due to the novel coronavirus rose to 166 and the number of cases climbed to 5,734 in the country on Thursday.