At least 22 private laboratory chains having around 15,500 collection centres spread all over the country have been registered with the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) till Tuesday for conducting COVID-19 tests, health ministry officials said. Besides, 118 government laboratories have been included in the ICMR network of COVID-19 testing. The network has a capacity to test 12,000 samples daily. In the last five days, on an average, 1,338 samples have been tested by the government labs each day, an ICMR official said.
In Delhi, three private diagnostics — Lal Path Labs, Rohini; Dr Dangs Lab in Safdarjung Development Area and Laboratory Services, Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals in Sarita Vihar — have so far been given approval for conducting COVID-19 tests. The Centre on Saturday issued guidelines recommending that maximum rate for coronavirus tests by private laboratories should not be more than Rs 4,500 while appealing for free or subsidised testing in this hour of national public health emergency.
The ICMR guidelines recommended that the maximum cost for testing sample should not exceed Rs 4,500. This may include Rs 1,500 as a screening test for suspect cases and an additional Rs 3,000 for confirmation test. The order issued by the Union Health ministry stated that failure to comply with the guidelines will result in legal action.
According to the guidelines on sample collection and testing, the ICMR has called for ensuring appropriate biosafety and biosecurity precautions while collecting respiratory samples (oropharnygeal and nasal swab) from a suspect patient. It also called for home collection of samples. Preferable home collection of samples may be done by all the private laboratories which will help avoid the contact of people with the suspect cases during local travel to reach the laboratory, the guidelines stated.