Major Indian institution responsible for medical research in India, “Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR)” is speeding up the random sample testing of people in the country who are displaying flu-like symptoms but don’t have a travel history to any coronavirus hit countries. This step is being to determine whether community transmission is taking place or not at the moment.
According to trusted sources, the exercise began on March 15 and each of the 51 Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) laboratories in the country is expected to test 10 such samples every week. The ICMR has earlier taken 20 samples and tested them at 13 labs across India to check for community transmission between February 15 and 29.
“Since the number of cases are more, we are more aggressive now,” said Nivedita Gupta, scientist, epidemiology and communicable diseases expert in ICMR. “We thought that in order to rule out community transmission, let’s keep on checking these samples also for the presence for Covid-19,” explained Ms. Gupta.
This testing has gathered pace after reports from other countries came out which pointed out the fact the people who are mildly symptomatic or asymptomatic may be the reason behind the transmission for the disease.
“The testing strategy will completely change if we find any positive case in these random samples that we plan to test,” Gupta said. ICMR director general Balram Bhargava also answered the media, “The testing protocol is a moving target. The testing strategy will be revised in a week’s time if it’s needed to and having looked at the circumstances,” added Bhargava.
The ICMR made it clear that they does not want to conduct blanket checks. “First of all, we don’t want to do any indiscriminate testing as now everybody is asking for a test, so somewhere you will have to rationalize the test,” Nivedita Gupta said.
Mr. Bhargava also shared that India can only conduct 10,00 tests a day. The ICMR laboratories have around 100,000 testing kits and an additional 200,000 have already been ordered, according to RR Gangakhedhkar, ICMR Chief Epidemiologist.