Pvt Labs Allowed to Begin COVID-19 Tests Under ICMR Guidelines
Laboratory tests for coronavirus at private labs can only be offered when prescribed by a qualified physician.
The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has notified its guidelines on private labs that can test for the novel coronavirus. According to the notification, private laboratories accredited by the National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories (NABL) can provide COVID-19 tests if they have US FDA approved test kits.
This is how it will work. First, the test can only happen once a qualified doctor has prescribed the test following ICMR guidelines. You can read about who all can qualify for a test here.
Rules for Testing and Collection
Preferably, home collection of samples may be done by all the private labs.
Only real time PCR based assays are recommended.
All the lab staff involved in COVID-19 testing should be appropriately trained in Good Laboratory Practices and performing real-time PCR.
The positive sales to be transported to ICMR-NIV.
Appropriate biosafety and biosecurity precautions should be ensured while collecting samples from suspected coronavirus patients.
Importantly, the National Task Force recommends the maximum cost of testing sample should not exceed Rs4500. But ICMR encourages free or subsidized testing in lieu of the national public health emergency.
Before testing can start, the labs must ensure real time reporting of test results to ICMR HQ database.
Each lab will be provided a registration number by the ICMR.
Importantly, while the ICMR has encouraged labs to provide free or subsidised testing, the cost of tests cannot go beyond Rs 4500. This includes Rs 1500 for screening tests and Rs 3000 for confirmation tests.
In an earlier presser, ICMR head Dr Balram Bhargava had appealed to the private players.
“We were approached by private players who want to help out so we encouraged them to get involved. We are appealing to them to provide free testing for COVID-19.”Dr Balram Bhargava, ICMR D-G
Following this, the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) released a list of over 30 private labs which have the ‘capacity’ to conduct COVID-19 tests with reagents as per the guidelines by ICMR.
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.
In a notification issued on 21 March, some guidelines were laid out as follows (among others):
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.
(With inputs from PTI)
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