In a major step forward in India's Coronavirus (COVID-19) battle, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), on Tuesday, issued a no-objection certificate (NOC) for establishing sample collection sites by state governments. It also issued advice for such sites stating recommended PPE should be used, regular disinfection, biosafety regulations, proper sample transportation. Currently, India's COVID-19 tally stands at 4789 cases, with 124 deaths.
Several private labs across the nation, authorised by ICMR have set up sample collection centres in a particular city to widen the span of testing. Incidentally, Delhi has gotten India's first drive-through COVID-19 sample collection facility at West Punjabi Bagh. This collection centre allows residents to drive to the centre at an appointed hour, deposit their sample (the process takes 10-15 mins). Report of the test is given to the patient via email within 24 to 36 hours of the sample collection.
With the ICMR shifting its focus on testing, allowing such 'drive-through' collection centres, will greatly accelerate the process in identifying the cases. Moreover, ICMR has also allowed the use of rapid anti-body testing, ordering 10 lakh test kits. South Korea - which was acclaimed for its 'drive-through' rapid testing centres is currently being considered as a model to replicate by several state governments.
Earlier in the day, sources reported that the Centre is mulling to extend the nationwide lockdown post-April 14. The Centre is reportedly actively considering to extend the lockdown as many states have approached the Centre requesting the same. In a GoM meeting, the Centre had devised a post-lockdown strategy - splitting into two parts- one for states which will extend lockdown and other for states which will lift the lockdown to ensure transport of essential goods, food supply to people, army intervention and social distancing guidelines. The Centre has also designed 'Cluster containment model' for four cities - Mumbai, Delhi, Bhilwara, and Agra, where a large number of Coronavirus (COVID-19) cases have been reported.