Karnataka has 60 ICMR-approved labs now


From two labs approved by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) in February, Karnataka now has 60 labs that have an overall testing capacity of nearly 13,000 samples a day.

Although the government of India had set a target for Karnataka to establish 60 labs by May 31, this was achieved much before the deadline. Except one, all the labs are functional, said Primary and Secondary Education Minister S. Suresh Kumar, who is also the COVID spokesperson for the State.

“Starting from one lab in February at National Institute of Virology in Bengaluru, we had six labs by the end of March. The number of labs rose to 17 by April-end and now we have 60,” the Minister told presspersons on Wednesday.

The State’s testing capacity too has increased from 2,308 samples in March to 55,034 in April. This month from May 1 till date, as many as 1,79,397 samples have been tested. “On Wednesday, 12,694 samples were tested and this is the highest ever done on a single day,” he said.

State’s distinction

V. Ravi, senior professor and head of Neuro Virology at NIMHANS, who is the ICMR-appointed nodal officer for setting up labs in the State, said Karnataka is the only State to have set up 60 labs much ahead of the deadline set by the government of India. On April 15, ICMR had identified 12 mentor institutes across the country, including AIMS, PGI Chandigarh, JIPMER in Puducherry, NIMHANS, and NEIGRIHMS in Shillong, and given them the responsibility of setting up labs in States allotted to them. “NIMHANS had been given Karnataka and the target was to set up two labs in each district. We had 15 labs on April 15 and since then have managed to add one lab a day [in 42 days],” said Dr. Ravi.

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Break leads to backlog

There have been complaints of backlog of samples in various labs in the State, because of which the test reports of many are yet to come despite they completing 14 days of quarantine.

Health Commissioner Pankaj Kumar Pandey said this was because three premier labs in Bengaluru — NIV, NIMHANS and BMCRI lab — had taken a two-day break on rotation for calibration of equipment. “The backlog is being cleared now and the issue will be sorted out,” he said.

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Sagar Biswas

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