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Govt to rope in 50 private labs to ramp up testing for the virus

With the number of coronavirus patients swelling in the country, the government has decided to rope in around 50 private laboratories to help increase the capacity of diagnostic services.

“We have received proposals from some private laboratories that they want to help in testing of patients… We are engaging high quality National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories accredited private labs for testing,” Balram Bhargava, director general of Indian Council of Medical Research and secretary of the Department of Health Research, said on Tuesday.

Many of the private laboratories have assured they will conduct the tests for free, he said, adding that these labs will soon be operationalized.

“As the cases are rising, as a collective responsibility, the government and the private sector will work in tandem,” said Dr Harsh Mahajan, founder of Mahajan Imaging Centre, New Delhi, and former president of the Indian Radiological and Imaging Association. “Some of the things we will require are protocols for testing, guidelines on whose samples are to be collected because we don’t want self-testing to be there. Only doctor’s prescription should be there,” said Dr Lal’s PathLabs CEO Om Manchanda.

Dr Lal’s PathLabs has sought guidelines on how positive cases are reported. “The entire operating guidelines for the testing of Covid-19 samples is what we will need from the government,” Manchanda said.

The mapping of NABL-accredited labs is being done and ICMR will release a list soon, an official at the institute said. Live Mint

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