New Delhi: With an increase in load of screening samples from suspected coronavirus (COVID-19) cases with symptoms and travel history to affected countries, as many as 52 testing labs have been commissioned across India, including two in Delhi.
The Indian Council of Medical Research — the apex body in India for the formulation, coordination and promotion of biomedical research — along with the Department of Health Research has commissioned these 52 laboratories.
Two of the labs in Delhi are at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences and the National Centre for Disease Control.
Also, 57 other laboratories are helping in sample collection for the nCoV.
“A total of 56 DHR/ICMR Virus Research and Diagnostic Laboratories (VRDLs) and one facility at Leh have been designated to facilitate sample collection through government health authorities. Their role is to provide collection material (swabs and viral transport media) and facilitate the transport of samples to the nearest testing laboratory,” the ICMR said.
There is only one sample collection laboratory in Delhi — the Lady Hardinge Medical College.
As of 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 the ITBP and Manesar camps and tested twice on days 0 and 14. Subsequently, another 236 individuals evacuated from Wuhan and Diamond Princess Ship off the Japan coast on February 27 were tested on day 0. Repeat testing will be done on day 14,” the ICMR added.
The WHO has declared an outbreak of febrile respiratory illness of unknown etiology in December 2019 from Wuhan, Hubei province, China. The outbreak has been epidemiologically linked to the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market involving the sale of seafood and live animals, the ICMR said.
“Infection is spread through droplets of an infected patient generated by coughing and sneezing or through prolonged contact with infected patients. Virus has been named as SARS-CoV-2 due to its relatedness to the earlier SARS-CoV (2002-03). The WHO has named the disease COVID-19 and ICTV has named the virus as SARSCoV-2,” the ICMR added.
The ICMR suggested that people with symptomatic (fever, sore throat, running nose, dyspnea etc) and individuals returning from affected countries (China, Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Iran, Italy etc.) should go for screening.
A total of 31 cases of the coronavirus has been recorded in India, including three in Delhi.