New Delhi: In its fight against COVID-19, India adopted an intelligent testing strategy to trace and remain ahead of the novel coronavirus virus and create an infrastructure to provide testing facilities and services across the country.
As a result, today India has 609 testing labs (431 public, 178 private) across the country with the capacity to test 1.4 lakh samples per day, and the capacity is being further raised to 2 lakh samples per day, according to latest data from the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR). Currently, 1.1 lakh samples are being tested each day in these labs.
When the threat of COVID-19 knocked on the country’s doors, the Centre scaled up its preparedness by standardizing diagnostic assays at ICMR-National Institute of Virology, (NIV) Pune and immediately commissioning diagnostic facility in 13 VRDLs based on their location in cities with international airports.
With the view of staying two steps ahead of the virus, the intelligent testing strategy was formed to ensure that at any point of time in any region, the required testing is carried out and the system does not get overwhelmed.
It has now become the basis of calibrated need-based expansion of laboratories and other testing infrastructures in other parts of the country.
The strategy also included anticipating areas where testing would be required and involving AIIMS and other similar institutions to help raise the standard of private medical colleges and laboratories for getting accredited by NABL and approved by ICMR for COVID-19 testing.
Devising a strategy to carry out testing by the transportation of samples from far-flung areas to places where laboratories are available and training lab technicians is also a part of the strategy adopted by the Centre to tackle COVID-19.
Most states have also been working with the National Tuberculosis Elimination Program (NTEP) to deploy TrueNAT machines for COVID-19 testing. Through this, it has been ensured that the testing infrastructure is not overwhelmed in any state to date thereby ensuring no state has a significant backlog of samples to be tested.
To facilitate testing at district level the government also tapped the rich resource of available TrueNat machines for TB diagnosis. The TrueNAT COVID-19 screening and the confirmatory test had been quickly validated by ICMR and now the machines have been deployed to testing even in district-level hospitals.
The authorities have tried to expand testing in the state of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal, and Odisha, in recent days due to an expected surge in cases due to an influx of migrant workers.
A total of 36 testing labs in West Bengal, 27 in Uttar Pradesh, and 17 each in Bihar and Odisha have been set up to ensure availability of adequate diagnostic capacity.
The undaunting effort to scale-up laboratory capacity has been paired with un-interrupted supplies of testing materials to all states and Union Territories, amidst the global crisis. Indigenous vendors and manufacturers have been promoted and hand-held to produce swabs for sample collection, RNA extractions kits, RT-PCR diagnostic material making the country self-reliant.
With the exemplary team effort, it has been possible to scale up the diagnostic capacity for COVID19 in all states and UTs of India, while maintaining adequate checks and balances, uncompromising quality and calibrated efforts.
Earlier today, India witnessed the highest ever spike of 6,977 positive cases, taking the total number of COVID-19 to 1,38,845, according to the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
India is now among the top 10 nations who have been worst hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.
With 154 deaths reported in the last 24 hours, the total number of deaths due to COVID-19 now stands at 4,021 in the country.
Out of the total number of cases, 77,103 are active cases and 57,721 have been cured/ discharged/migrated. (ANI)