16 private labs can now conduct Covid-19 tests

The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), the country's apex biomedical research body, on Monday approved 10 more private laboratories including Dr Lal PathLabs, Dr Dangs Lab and Indraprastha Apollo Delhi in Delhi to test for the coronavirus disease, taking to 16 the number of private facilities that can begin collecting samples whenever they are ready.

ICMR, however, did not expand its criteria for people to be able to take the test, with only those with travel history and symptoms and people in direct contact with positive cases eligible to have their samples taken.

Several experts have raised concerns over tests not being carried out aggressively or randomly enough, saying that a ramped up approach could stop a silent spread of the highly contagious pathogen. South Korea, for instance, has set up drive-through tests, where samples are collected within minutes and people get their reports the next day.

Other than the three labs in the Capital, two Tamil Nadu-based labs - Department of Clinical Virology, CMC, Vellore, and Department of Laboratory Services, Apollo Hospitals, Chennai - Mumbai-based SRL Limited, Haryana-based Strand Life Sciences and SRL Limited, Gujarat-based Supratech Micropath Laboratory & Research Institute and Apollo Hyderabad in Telangana were approved to carry out tests. Six other private labs were approved by ICMR on Sunday.

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