Labs remain sparse in worst-hit states
Close to two months after the first novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) was recorded, India has just 183 labs that are equipped to carry out the tests. Of these, 132 are government labs (126 are receiving testing kits from Indian Council of Medical Research and 6 are without ICMR support) and 51 are private labs.
A closer look at the three states with most COVID-19 cases tells a worrying story. Kerala, which has reported 202 cases so far, has 12 labs with covid-19 testing capabilities.
Maharashtra, which is a close second at 198 reported cases, has 23 certified labs so far. Delhi, with 87 cases, has 14 certified labs. Karnataka (83 cases) and Uttar Pradesh (82 cases) has 11 and 9 certified labs. Ladakh, which has reported 13 cases so far, only has a single sample collection centre. Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim also only have collection centres.
ICMR, the nodal authority for testing of patients for COVID-19, has also identified seven institutes to serve as depot for storage of reagents required for COVID-19 testing. The institutes are: National Institute of Cholera & Enteric Diseases, Kolkata; ICMR -Regional Medical Research Centre, Dibrugarh; National Institute of Epidemiology, Chennai; National Institute of Nutrition, Hyderabad; National Institute for Research in Reproductive Health, Mumbai; National Institute of Malaria Research, Delhi and National Institute for Research on Environmental Health, Bhopal.
The council has been closely monitoring the presence of community transmissions in the country. Since February 15, ICMR has initiated sentinel surveillance to detect community transmission of COVID-19. The surveillance sites have been scaled up from 16 sites till Feb 29, 2020 to 51 sites by March 15, 2020.
India is currently testing only:
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