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ICMR-built BSL-3 mobile lab inaugurated in Nashik

Union Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare, Bharati Pravin Pawar inaugurated India’s–and South Asia’s–first Biosafety level-3 (BSL-3) containment mobile laboratory of South Asia in Maharashtra’s Nashik district today, a government press release said. The mobile laboratory will investigate newly emerging and re-emerging viral infections that are highly infectious and of lethal potential to human beings, the release added.

Pawar said that the mobile lab is a significant value addition to the government’s efforts to strengthen healthcare infrastructure through the Pradhan Mantri Ayushman Bharat Health Infrastructure Mission.

She further said the mobile Lab will help in real-time data collection, which will “enable us to ensure quick containment and preventing further spread of any emerging viral infections. This lab is one of the finest examples of our resolve for an Atmanirbhar Bharat.”

The laboratory has been designed and built by Indian Council of Medical Research in collaboration with Mumbai based bio-safety equipment maker Klenzaids. ICMR Director-General Dr Balram Bhargava termed the launch of the mobile laboratory as ‘historic’. The DG recalled that during Nipah virus outbreak in Kerala, samples had to transported to National Institute of Virology, Pune. “It was then we felt a mobile laboratory could be of great help during outbreaks of highly infectious pathogens. Such laboratories can be stationed at different regions of the country and may be mobilised in case of sudden outbreaks,” Bhargava said.

Existing infrastructure of BSL-3 laboratories is fixed and dependent on transporting samples from near and far locations, often leading to delays in diagnosis. In view of repeated outbreaks of highly infectious pathogens like Nipah, Zika, Avian influenza and now COVID-19, the mobile lab will prove critical to be able to detect the emerging pidemics/pandemics at a very early stage to enable quick containment and preventing spread.

The laboratory is airtight, access-controlled, bio-decontaminable, fitted with safe change HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Absorbing) filtration and biological liquid waste decontamination system, giving it the tag of BSL-3 Enhanced. The lab is controlled through an intelligent control automation system, which maintains the working environment under negative air pressure, maintains equipment parameters and records all necessary data. CNBCTV18

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