Home / News / India /  Govt taps education bodies for their RT-PCR machines to do more covid tests

NEW DELHI: The government has written to educational institutes to provide machines available in their research laboratories to augment RT-PCR (real-time polymerase chain reaction) testing facilities at district levels. The move, authorities believe, would help boost local level covid-19 testing capacity and help perform around 20% or more than 60,000 RT-PCR tests additionally per day through these deployments.

This comes even as India's covid-19 tally rose nearly 32 lakh, with more than 60,000 people testing positive for coronavirus in a day, according to the Union health ministry.

RT-PCR tests are considered as the gold standard in coronavirus detection irrespective of the virus load in a patient. The augmentation of testing facilities will provide a significant boost with a total of 3,68,27,520 samples have been tested up to 24 August with as many as 9,25,383 samples being tested on Monday, according to the Indian Council of Medical Research.

“It is essential that the testing centres are strengthened by addition of more RT-PCR machines. There are large numbers of machines that are available with educational research institutions and their various departments are capable of performing RT-PCR tests and are not being used in any critical area," the University Grants Commission (UGC) said in a letter to institutions last week, underlining the directive it has received from the Union education ministry.

Nearly 900 RT-PCR machines are in use and the suppliers of such machines have told the government that the country has about 765 more such machines, with educational and research laboratories owning almost 250 of them, according to official data.

“In view of this, higher educational institutions and research institutions are requested to facilitate temporary deployment of the machines in consultation with the department of health research and district hospital and government laboratories for covid-19 tests by 31 August 2020," UGC has written.

Some of the major cities are now showing a stagnation or drop in the spread of the virus and a lot of fresh cases are being detected from non-metro areas where health infrastructure is not adequate. Deployment of institutional RT-PCR machines will help in case detection and the ensuing medical attention.

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