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Coronavirus: Govt to involve private labs in COVID-19 testing

Joe C Mathew     March 21, 2020

The Central government will roll out its plan to permit private diagnostic laboratories to conduct COVID-19 tests later today. The eligibility to participate in the programme and the cost of such tests done by private labs will be detailed in the guideline that will be released soon, officials said.

Addressing a press conference here today, officials from the ministry of health said the private labs will be guided by the testing protocols and criteria fixed by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR). The government has already allowed 111 public sector laboratories to offer COVID-19 tests across the country.

The officials also informed that the government has instructed states to augment the production and supply of masks and sanitizers by doing away with permissions for capacity augmentation for existing sanitiser manufacturing units. Similarly, deodorant manufacturers have been asked to produce sanitizers to meet the increasing demand. Alcohol manufacturers have also been asked to supply the raw material, and also set up units on their own if possible.

The government has also fixed the prices of masks and sanitizers under the Essential Commodities Act to avoid overpricing of these products. While the 2 ply and 3 ply masks carry a maximum retail price of Rs 8 and Rs 10 per piece respectively, the price of a 200 ml sanitizer unit has been fixed at Rs 100.

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