The Centre has decided to allow accredited private labs to test for Covid-19. This decision is expected to meet the high demands of testing.
There are 50 to 60 private labs, accredited by the National Accreditation Board for Laboratories.
At present, only government labs are permitted to do the test. Though their capacity is around 5,000 samples per day, only 60 to 70 samples are being processed daily. This is because current guidelines allow testing only for symptomatic individuals with travel history to affected countries or those in direct contact with an infected individual.
Currently, there are 52 government laboratories in ICMR’s Virus Research & Diagnostic Laboratories (VRDLs) that are equipped to carry out COVID-19 tests. Another 57 VRDL network labs are authorised to collect samples through state government health authorities. All of these operate under the aegis of the National Institute of Virology (NIV), Pune.
Currently, private laboratories are not permitted to test for COVID-19. In anticipation of a greater surge.
There are 53 private laboratories in India accredited by the College of American Pathologists (CAP) and hundreds more by the National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories (NABL).
Earlier, troubled by the inordinate delay in testing people showing symptoms of COVID-19, TS Deo, the Chhattisgarh health minister, wrote to Harsh Vardhan, the union health minister, imploring him to expand testing facilities. In the letter, he wrote, “The current testing criteria is too restrictive … In Chhattisgarh, like many other states, only one centre is carrying our testing currently. We are concerned whether Government of India will provide us the adequate number of kits if we allow wider testing.”