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Health Ministry Launches India's First Mobile Laboratory For COVID-19 Testing

The mobile laboratory, also called I-Lab or Infectious Diseases Diagnostics Lab, can be deployed at remote and inaccessible areas in the country, where there is no such facility.

As India grapples with the coronavirus pandemic, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan on Thursday, June 18, launched India's first mobile laboratory for COVID-19 testing in rural and inaccessible areas of India.

The mobile laboratory, also called I-Lab or Infectious Diseases Diagnostics Lab, can run 50 RT-PCR and nearly 200 ELISA tests in a day. With a double set of machines, the capacity can go up to 500 tests per day in an eight-hour shift, Vardhan said.

"Launched India's first mobile lab for #COVID19 testing to promote last-mile testing access in rural & inaccessible areas of India. Present with me on the occasion was Smt @RenuSwarup Ji, Secretary, @DBTIndia," Vardhan tweeted.

To address shortage of critical healthcare technologies in the country and move progressively towards a stage of self-sufficiency, the Department of Biotechnology (DBT) under the Ministry of Science and Technology, along with the Andhra Pradesh Med-tech Zone (AMTZ), has initiated the DBT-AMTZ COMManD (COVID-19 Medtech Manufacturing Development) consortia.

AMTZ is Asia's first medical equipment manufacturing ecosystem, uniquely dedicated to medical technology and supported by various ministries.

"Under this Consortia, India's first I- lab (infectious disease diagnostic lab) has been built at AMTZ in record time of 8 days. This is a mobile diagnostic unit with biosafety facility. The I- lab is a BSL-2 facility with on-site ELISA, RT-PCR, Biochemistry analyses," Vardhan said.

The Health Minister added that the mobile testing facility will be deployed through the DBT testing hubs to remote regions of the country for COVID-19 testing. Currently, there are over 20 such hubs in the country with 100 testing laboratories. Till date, these facilities have tested more than 2,60,000 samples for COVID-19.

"We had started the fight against COVID with one laboratory in February. Today, we have 953 laboratories across the country. Out of these 953, around 699 are government labs," Vardhan said.

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