Corona testing capacity scaled Up, using RT-PCR only: Ministry

Lav Agarwal, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Health

New Delhi, April 30 (IANS) The Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on Thursday said that the coronavirus testing capacity in the country has been scaled up — from one laboratory in the country to now a total 389 government and private laboratories in the country.

Addressing a press conference, Joint Secretary of the Health Ministry Lav Agarwal said that the testing capacity of India has increased progressively as and when required.

“Right from having one lab, today we have at least 292 government laboratories and 97 private labs having RT-PCR testing facilities across the country. We are progressively scaling up the testing capacity. Earlier we were doing a few hundred tests per day but now we have come to the level that yesterday 58,686 tests were done,” Agarwal said.

The Joint Health Secretary also said that the average number of tests performed per day has also increased and the government is ensuring that people who require tests for COVID-19, are tested.

“If we take the data of the last five days, the average number of tests performed per day in the last five days in India stands at 49,800. It is important to understand that as and when there has been a need to increase the capacity of RT PCR tests, the country has increased its testing capacity. We have ensured that all people who need to be tested as per the protocol get tested” he said.

In addition, Agarwal also informed the media that as of now, India is doing Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) tests only for diagnostic purposes of COVID-19. Agarwal said that at present India is using RT-PCR tests for the novel coronavirus and the Indian Council of Medical Research is coordinating with the state government as to how the Rapid test kits will be used, if at all.

“Rapid testing kits have limited purpose in terms of epidemiology and surveillance as it takes time to develop antibodies. The ICMR is coordinating with state governments and guiding them how to use rapid diagnostic kits if they need to be used. As far as testing and treatment protocol is concerned we have to use RT-PCR test only,” Agarwal told media.

ICMR had precured Chinese rapid testing kits, usage of which was stopped in the country as per ICMR directions due to fault in their performance.

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