MohFW, ICMR issue guidelines to private labs on how to conduct COVID-19 tests
Appropriate bio-safety and bio-security precautions should be ensured while collecting samples from a patient.
The Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and Indian Council Of Medical Research (ICMR) have constituted guidelines for private laboratories to conduct COVID-19 tests and urged the private set-ups to conduct the tests free of cost. These private centres would work under the domain of ICMR.
Professor Balram Bhargava, Secretary, Department of Health Research and Director General, ICMR stated, "We are having a dialogue with high-quality private labs that are accredited by National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories (NABL). This is being done to understand the modalities of increased access to the test in an endeavour to prepare for future."
"We were approached by a lot of private players who would want to work for the country. ICMR would share standard laboratory procedures with them and start soon," he said.
"The laboratory test should be only offered when prescribed by a qualified physician as per ICMR guidance for testing. Since the guidance evolves periodically, the latest revised version should be followed. ICMR will share the statement of purpose (SOPs) for laboratory testing and provide positive controls for establishing the test as soon as the concerned private laboratory has procured the primers, probes and reagents as per SOPs," he added.
He further noted that the adoption of commercial kits for testing should be based on validations conducted by lCMR's National Institute of Virology (NIV), Pune.
Dr Nivedita Gupta, Scientist at ICMR said, "Appropriate bio-safety and bio-security precautions should be ensured while collecting samples from a suspect patient. Alternatively, a disease-specific separate collection site may be created. We are working on modalities with them."
Gupta added, "All the private testing laboratories ensure immediate/real-time reporting to the state officials of IDSP (Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme) of Government of India and ICMR headquarters for timely initiation of contact tracing and research activities. ICMR strongly appeals those private laboratories should offer COVID-19 diagnosis at no cost."
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