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What ICMR said on coronavirus today on masks, testing capacity and more

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Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) on Friday said it is ready to ramp up capacity of testing labs and it will soon have 67 labs where the primary tests for coronavirus will be done.

What ICMR said on coronavirus today on masks, testing capacity and more
Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) on Friday said it is ready to ramp up capacity of testing labs and it will soon have 67 labs where the primary tests for coronavirus will be done.
Currently, there are 51 labs in the country which can conduct primary tests for the novel coronavirus. Out of these 51, the second test or the confirmatory tests can be conducted at 31 labs.
"We are conducting 60-70 tests every day across the entire network of 51 labs as of now. But, we can scale it up. Each lab has the potential to conduct 90 tests every day," ICMR said.
Earlier, National Institute of Virology (NIV) in Pune was the only lab which could confirm the presence of coronavirus in a person. ICMR has been able to gradually but quickly ramp up this number to 13, then 18 and now, a total of 31 labs can perform the confirmatory tests.
ICMR also said that rapid diagnostic kits are also being sent to NIV, Pune for validation and if these are approved by NIV, then these will also help in creating a widespread network of preliminary detection of the virus.
India has also become the fifth country in the world after China, Thailand, US and Japan to isolate the novel coronavirus and hence, this will pave the way for the development of its vaccine, ICMR added.
"As per our tests so far, the virus in India is 99.99 percent similar to Wuhan virus. Hence, lessons from China will be useful. China and Italy are at the stage where the outbreak has been such that it has resulted in an epidemic there. India is at stage 2 and there is a window of opportunity where we all together can contain it at Stage 2 which involves local transmission, not community transmissions," ICMR added.
ICMR is also keen on keeping an eye on preventing community transmission and hence, it will start conducting weekly tests from samples taken across its 51 labs, from people with no travel history.
As of March 13 morning, ICMR said it has conducted 6,500 tests across 5,900 individuals and out of which, 78 tests were positive for the novel coronavirus. As of 5: 00 pm of March 13, there were 81 cases of coronavirus, out of whom 10 have recovered.
A 76-year-old man from Karnataka, who died on March 10 and had a travel history of Saudi Arabia, also tested positive for coronavirus. "Death of a 76-year-old male from Karnataka is confirmed to be caused due to co-morbidity and has also tested positive for COVID-19. The details of the case are as follows: He visited Saudi Arabia from 29th January 2020 to 29th February 2020," the government said on March 12.
As far as testing facilities and material is concerned, ICMR said as of now, government labs are more suitable for conducting the tests for coronavirus and hence, private sector help has not been sought and enough inventory is available. While most testing material is made in India, probes are being imported from Germany but as of now, sufficient stock is present, ICMR said.
Asked on why only people who show symptoms are being tested, ICMR clarified that diagnosing asymptomatic people can give an impression of false security and hence, it is restricting itself to symptomatic cases only.
It is interesting to note here that before 2008 all samples for such deadly diseases used to be sent outside for testing, but ICMR has the capability now to conduct these tests in the country.
ICMR also reiterated that N95 masks are useful for people who are directly in proximity to someone who is suffering from coronavirus or who is a suspected patient. People should not hoard masks, ICMR added.
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