Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) on Thursday approved laboratories under the Department of Biotechnology (DBT), Department of Science and Technology (DST), Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) to conduct the COVID-19 testing. However, DBT, DST, CSIR and DAE laboratories have been asked to strictly follow the ICMR guidelines before initiation of COVID-19 testing.
Meanwhile, the apex medical research body will not provide diagnostic kits/ reagents to these laboratories.
An ICMR official told ANI, "Since these research institutes are of eminence under other research organizations, ICMR will not conduct any site assessment not accord approval for initiation of testing at these laboratories. Secretary to the government of India, the concerned departments may accord approval for initiation of testing as deemed appropriate."
According to researchers, the coronavirus is a high-risk pathogen with high transmissibility and infectivity. That is why, trained staffs are required to handle the samples to avoid spills and laboratory outbreaks.
The official said, "These laboratories have to fulfill key criteria set by ICMR. It includes the availability of BSL-2 level laboratory facilities including molecular biology set up for virological diagnostic. It should have a functioning and calibrated bio-safety cabinet type 2A/2B in the laboratory along with cold centrifuge/microfuge for RNA extraction."
He further said, "The laboratory test should be only offered when the sample is referred by the state health official or state IDSP. A functional and calibrated real-time PCR machine is must with trained staff to handle respiratory samples. They should also have a good understanding of laboratory biosafety and biosecurity."
"Well-defined arrangement for segregation and discarding of biomedical waste should be placed," informed the official.
Testing laboratories should also ensure immediate/real-time reporting to the state officials of IDSP for timely initiation of contract tracing. A robust institutional policy on biomedical waste management of human origin should be followed.