Coronavirus in India: India has 52 testing sites and 57 laboratories to tackle the outbreak of coronavirus, according to the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) website (icmr dot nic dot in). With 43 people having already tested positive for COVID-19 in India, these laboratories and testing sites are now playing an important role in quick identification of the presence of the virus in suspected people. To be able to play this role with utmost efficiency, the ICMR has released certain guidelines which these testing sites and labs have to strictly adhere to.
The ICMR website lists out all the 52 testing sites, which include Sri Venkateswara Institute of Medical Sciences, Tirupati, Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER), Chandigarh, AIIMS, Raipur, AIIMS, Delhi, BJ Medical College, Ahmedabad, National Institute of Virology Field Unit, Bengaluru, Government Medical College, Thiruvananthapuram, AIIMS, Bhopal, Government Medical College, Amritsar, King’s Institute of Preventive Medicine & Research, Chennai and King’s George Medical University, Lucknow. These sites are known as Viral Research and Diagnostic Laboratories (VRDLs).
The 57 laboratories will help the government in collecting the samples for the testing of COVID-19. Among the many laboratories, some key ones are Rajeev Gandhi Institute of Medical Sciences, Kadapa, Jorhat Medical College, Jorhat, Patna Medical College, Patna, Government Medical College and Hospital, Chandigarh, Lady Hardinge Medical College, New Delhi, Government Medical College & SSG Hospital, Vadodara, Government Medical College, Srinagar, Government Medical College, Thrissur, AIIMS, Jodhpur, Government Medical College, Thiruvarur, Doon Government Medical College, Dehradun and North Bengal Medical College, Darjeeling.
Responsibilities of the VRDLs
According to a document on the ICMR website for state nodal VRDLs and testing VRDLs, they have the responsibility of ensuring that samples reach the National Institute of Virology (NIV) in Pune, where the final test of coronavirus presence is conducted.
For that, they have certain responsibilities.
- Any testing VRDL which collects samples of suspected cases, either directly or through state health authorities, is supposed to inform the state nodal VRDL immediately about the presence of such sample with them.
- Upon receiving the information of a sample with the testing lab, the state nodal VRDL is supposed to contact one of the specified courier agencies to arrange a pick up of the samples directly from the testing lab. The state nodal VRDL cannot ask the testing lab to ship the samples to them.
- Once the sample has been picked up, the state nodal VRDL must keep in touch with the courier agency so that samples can reach NIV through the shortest route.
- Once the sample has been shipped, immediate notification of dispatch of sample along with details should be sent to the designated persons enlisted in the notification.
The outbreak of coronavirus has spread in India nearly three months after it first started in China's Wuhan. Even though screening of all passengers has been put in place at airports and seaports, the possibility of local transmission also poses a major problem for the government in its efforts to prevent the outbreak from largely affecting India. For tackling the disease, which has killed over 4,000 people globally so far, these VRDLs are of immense importance.