Pune: State health minister Rajesh Tope on Thursday said at least three pharma majors have expressed interest in testing samples of people suspected of coronavirus infection in the state, but they would have to take permission from the Indian Council of Medical Research and follow its guidelines.
“Only after seeking necessary permissions can they start functioning. The health department will monitor these laboratories,” the minister told TOI on Thursday. “We are working on increasing the government laboratories in the state to 10, but accredited laboratories, once they get sanction from ICMR, can start the process as per the guidelines. At present, the guidelines specify that testing is allowed only for symptomatic individuals with a travel history to affected countries or those in direct contact with an infected individual,” he added.
He said private labs may be allowed to conduct coronavirus tests as per the Centre’s notification. There are 50 to 60 private labs, accredited by the National Accreditation Board for Laboratories. These laboratories in the state will have to approach ICMR if they want to conduct tests, he said.
At present, only government labs are permitted to test. Though their capacity is around 5,000 samples per day, only 60 to 70 samples are being processed daily as per protocol.
Tope said as per the coronavirus testing protocol not everyone can take such tests. “Those detected with symptoms of coronavirus and those who have returned to India from coronavirus affected countries can be tested,’’ he added.
On Wednesday, Tope had said eight laboratories were expected to come up in the next 10 days in addition to the current three. He also expected 10 lakh personal protective equipment kits from the Centre.
Besides, there are 600 isolation beds and 700 ventilators to treat the Covid-19 patients across the state. “The Epidemic Act and the Disaster Management Act are in place and we can have private hospitals reserve beds and rooms if required,” he said.
He had announced three labs at KEM hospital, Kasturba hospital in Mumbai and at BJ Medical College. The facility at BJ Medical college had started and the standardisation process is on, he added
Two labs at Haffkine Institute in Mumbai will be active in the four days, he said. The government is keen on opening labs in Dhule, Aurangabad and Solapur. The National Institute of Virology will provide equipment in these proposed eight labs.
“Each one of the labs will test 180 to 250 samples every day, but the National Institute of Virology (NIV) will validate their test results,” he added.
18 Pvt Hospitals Ready For Covid-19 Cases
Health minister Rajesh Tope has directed all districts to be ready with the disaster management plan to deal with Covid-19. As per the Centre’s directives, all states with Covid-19 cases were to reserve beds, ICUs, medicine and material.
On Wednesday, the minister had directed the district administration in Pune to have its plan ready. Collector Naval Kishore Ram has nominated officials as per the plan to check on quarantine facilities, handle material and man management.
Moreover, 18 empanelled private hospitals have been directed to reserve beds if the government facilities fall short of space. On Thursday, divisional commissioner Deepak Mhaisekar told TOI that he has directed all health officials and the administration to ensure that there is enough stock of masks and supportive treatment.
“We have ordered 2,000 N95 masks which should arrive shortly. There is no shortage of medicines,’‘ he added.-Times Of India