ICMR approves 8 private labs in Hyderabad for COVID-19 testing

Private laboratories are expected to charge up to Rs 4,500 for a single test while State-run to conduct tests for free

By Author  |  Published: 31st Mar 2020  12:36 am

Hyderabad: Conducting diagnostic tests for confirmation of the novel coronavirus has so far remained within the purview of State-run laboratories in Hyderabad. In the coming days, however, this will change with the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) issuing approval to eight private laboratories in Hyderabad to conduct coronavirus tests.

The eight laboratories that have received permission to conduct the coronavirus tests include Apollo Health Sciences and Lifestyle Ltd, Bowenpally, American Institute of Pathology and laboratory Pvt Ltd, Nallagandla, Dr. Remedies Labs Private Limited, Hyderabad, Laboratory Services Apollo Hospitals, Hyderabad, Medcis Pathlabs India Pvt.Ltd., Bowenpally, Pathcare Labs Pvt Ltd., Keesara, Vijaya Diagnostics and Vimta Labs.

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The State-run laboratories that have already received permissions to conduct COVID-19 diagnostic tests include Gandhi Hospital, Osmania Medical College, Fever Hospital, Institute of Preventive Medicine, Narayanguda, Nizam’s Institute of Medical Sciences (NIMS) and Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology.

In all, Hyderabad now has 14 laboratories, which includes eight private laboratories that have the permission to conduct coronavirus testing from ICMR and National Institute of Virology (NIV) in Hyderabad.

The private laboratories are expected to charge up to Rs 4,500 for a single test while the State-run laboratories are expected to conduct tests for free. The laboratory at NIMS, which is a quasi-Government institution, is expected to charge 30 per cent to 40 per cent less than the limit of Rs. 4,500 set by the Central regulatory authorities.

Selection of patients

ICMR has said that any person who presents with Severe Acute Respiratory Illness (SARI) can be considered by the private laboratories for coronavirus testing. Apart from that, persons with a travel history to any foreign country in the 14 days prior to symptoms onset can also be considered as a potential suspected case.

Other qualification to undergo tests include disease in healthcare worker working in an environment of SARI patients, unusual or unexpected clinical course like sudden deterioration of health despite appropriate treatment, should be urgently investigated.

The ICMR has, however, made it clear that the private healthcare laboratories must share all their information with the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MOHFW) and local State government.

State government permission needed

Permitting private laboratories to conduct diagnostic tests for COVID-19 entails framing guidelines and having a system to regulate collection of samples and also flow of information. While the ICMR has already framed guidelines Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for collection of samples, packaging and transportation, the State health authorities are yet to release local guidelines to the private laboratories.

Several managements of the private laboratories are however ready to roll-out the diagnostic services but are waiting for the guidelines of the State health authorities. Each private diagnostic facility will have the capacity to conduct anywhere between 50 and 100 coronavirus tests in a day.

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