India’s first mobile I-Lab

Amid the coronavirus pandemic, when every activity around the country has come to a screeching halt, the Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare, Dr. Harsh Vardhan on Thursday launched a mobile laboratory for novel coronavirus testing. The mobile lab is also called I-Lab (or Infectious Disease Diagnostic Lab), will be deployed in remote, interior, and inaccessible parts of the country for COVID-19 testing. It is equipped with latest testing equipments and three to four people can operate the lab. It can conduct 25 RT-PCR tests per day, 300 ELISA tests per day, and additional tests for TB and HIV.

The Infectious Disease Diagnostic Lab (I-Lab) will be deployed through the Department of Biotechnology (DBT) testing hubs in far flung areas. The aim for developing such a facility was to reach out to remote areas which are not easily accessible. A double sets of machines can help increase the capacity to about 500 tests per day in 8 hours of work. The mobile laboratory will come in handy in rural areas which dont have established laboratories. It is compact and has lot of facilities.
The Union health minister said, in future these I-Labs will be ramped up to cover more areas. Today, we have 953 laboratories across the country. Out of these 953, around 699 are government laboratories and 254 are private labs that are authorised for testing samples for COVID-19. Despite this, advanced testing facilities are unavailable in rural areas so this facility was developed.
Testing is the crucial factor for India as the country is seeing a surge in the number of cases of the pandemic.

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