In the wake of 31 confirmed cases of coronavirus in India so far, the Union health ministry has made functional 52 laboratories for testing samples while 57 labs have been designated for helping in sample collection for COVID-19 to enhance capacity for diagnosis and detection of the disease.
"Following the increase in load of screening samples from suspected cases with symptoms and travel history to the affected countries, the Department of Health Research/ICMR has commissioned 52 laboratories for COVID-19 testing in India," an official said.
As on March 6, a total of 4,058 samples from 3,404 individuals have been tested by the network. This includes testing of 1,308 samples from 654 individuals evacuated from Wuhan, China and quarantined at ITBP and Manesar Camp and tested twice on days 0 and 14.
Subsequently, another 236 individuals evacuated from Wuhan and Diamond Princess Ship, Japan on February 27 were tested on day 0. Repeat testing will be done on day 14.
Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan on Friday sought strict action against those charging inflated prices for face masks.
During a review meeting on coronavirus outbreak, he stressed on the importance of states keeping quarantine facilities, isolation wards and testing labs in active readiness.
So far, India has 31 confirmed cases of the infection, which includes 16 Italians, while nearly 29,000 people have been put under observation.
Vardhan held the meeting with health ministers and chief secretaries of all states and Union Territories, central ministers and representatives from organisations concerned through video conferencing and underlined the importance of communicating with the masses and rasing awareness about steps to prevent spread of the virus.
In Andhra Pradesh, labs at Sri Venkateswara Institute of Medical Sciences in Tirupati, Andhra Medical College in Visakhapatnam and GMC, Anantapur have been made operational while in Assam, labs at Gauhati Medical College in Guwahati and Regional Medical Research Centre, Dibrugarh have been activated.
In Bihar, Rajendra Memorial Research Institute of Medical Sciences, Patna, in Chandigarh, the Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education & Research and AIIMS in Chhattisgarh have the designated laboratories.
In Delhi, the facility of sample testing has been made available at AIIMS and the National Centre for Disease Control while in Gujarat, the facilites are available in BJ Medical College in Ahmedabad and M P Shah Government Medical College in Jamnagar.
Laboratories in Pt. B.D. Sharma Post Graduate Inst. of Med. Sciences in Rohtak and BPS Govt Medical College in Sonipat in Haryana have been made functional while the Indira Gandhi Medical College in Shimla and Dr Rajendra Prasad Govt Med. College, Kangra, Tanda have been activated in Himachal Pradesh.
Testing facilities have been activated in Sher-I-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences in Srinagar and Government Medical College of Jammu.
Laboratories in Bangalore Medical College & Research Institute and National Institute of Virology Field Unit in Bangalore, Mysore Medical College & Research Institute of Mysore, Hassan Inst. of Med. Sciences, Hassan and Shimoga Inst. of Med. Sciences, in Shivamogga have been designated as authorised ones in Karnataka.
National Institute of Virology Field Unit and Govt. Medical College, Thriuvananthapuram, and Govt. Medical College, Kozhikhode have the testing laboratories in Kerala.
Besides, AIIMS, Bhopal and National Institute of Research in Tribal Health (NIRTH), Jabalpur have been designated for testing in Madhya Pradesh.
Sawai Man Singh in Jaipur and Dr. S.N Medical College in Jodhpur, Jhalawar Medical College, Jhalawar and SP Med. College, Bikaner in Rajasthan have testing facilities while Gandhi Medical College in Secunderabad and King's George Medical University, Lucknow, Institute of Medical Sciences, Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi and Jawaharlal Nehru Medical College, Aligarh have been authorised to carry out tests for coronavirus.
Also, testing facilities have been made operational at Government Medical College of Haldwani in Uttarakhand and the National Institute of Cholera and Enteric Diseases and IPGMER in Kolkata in West Bengal among others.