Enhancing testing infra, manpower amid surging COVID-19 cases: Diagnostic chains

NEW DELHI, Apr 25:
Amid surging COVID-19 cases in the country, leading diagnostic chains like SRL Diagnostics, Dr Lal PathLabs and Thyrocare Technologies are enhancing testing infrastructure and manpower to cater to the manifold increase in demand and improve turn-around time on reports.
In an interaction with PTI, Gurugram-based SRL Diagnostics CEO Anand K noted that the company is tirelessly deploying more skilled manpower, machines and technology to reduce the lag and improve turn-around time on reports.
“We already have 15 RT-PCR labs operational in the country and will be launching five more such labs, in Calicut, Jaipur, Surat, Lucknow, and Himachal Pradesh along with more drive through sample collection sites across the country,” he said.
However, building additional diagnostic infrastructure is time-intensive, Anand added.
“We have to carefully host all technologies, skilled staff, and processes to maintain the testing quality. We have already procured new equipment to expand the capacity of our existing labs and have hired and trained more technical staff. These COVID warriors along with our partners on the ground are responding at a war footing and remain committed to address the diagnostic needs of people,” he said.
Anand acknowledged that the tremendous surge in COVID cases has amplified the caseload on the diagnostic facilities by manifold.
“It’s worth noting that while the rapidly increasing caseload is unprecedented, it is difficult to predict the place, time, and scale of a surge. As a response, SRL is working round-the-clock to respond to the skyrocketing testing needs,” he said, adding that the diagnostic facilities were responding to a three-fold rise in testing compared to February.
SRL has a presence across the country with over 9,000 collection points along with multiple accredited laboratories.
Dr Lal PathLabs said it is committed to serve the communities across the country amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Presently, the demand for RT PCR test has gone up exponentially and so has our testing. We have RT PCR labs at 13 locations and are in the process of adding 5 new locations. Subject to timely approvals, availability of manpower, machines etc, we estimate that these new locations will start testing in another 3-4 weeks,” the company said in a statement.
In addition, the company is continuing to leverage its current infrastructure to best manage operations amid rising COVID-19 test demand, it added.
The diagnostic chain is also trying to enhance further capacity in existing locations as well, the Gurgaon-based firm said.
Navi Mumbai-based Thyrocare Technologies Chairman and Managing Director A Velumani said that with COVID-19 cases increasing, workers have started to go back to their native places thus affecting the home collection activity.
“Migrant workers were mostly swab collection technicians, and 50 per cent of them have gone back in the last ten days, both from Delhi and Mumbai and hence the home collection has come to stand still when cases are alarmingly rising. New recruits are not convinced due to the risk involved, even if we are willing to pay more. Stalemate,” he noted.
The company is, however, looking to scale up its operations in the coming months.
“We have scaled up 5,000 more tests in March and 5,000 more in April and we will be able to scale up at this rate for another six months,” Velumani noted.
Over the past month, the COVID-19 outbreak in India has exploded.
A record single-day rise of 3,49,691 coronavirus cases pushed India’s tally of infection to 1,69,60,172, while active cases crossed the 26-lakh mark, according to the Union health ministry data updated on Sunday.
The death toll rose to 1,92,311 with a record 2,767 more fatalities in a day, the data updated at 8 am showed.
Registering a steady increase, the active cases have increased to 26,82,751 comprising 15.82 per cent of the total infections, while the national COVID-19 recovery rate has further dropped to 83.05 per cent.
India’s COVID-19 tally had crossed the 20-lakh mark on August 7, 30 lakh on August 23 last year, 40 lakh on September 5 and 50 lakh on September 16. It went past 60 lakh on September 28, 70 lakh on October 11, crossed 80 lakh on October 29, 90 lakh on November 20 and surpassed the one-crore mark on December 19.
India crossed the grim milestone of a total of 1.50 crore COVID-19 cases on April 19 this year. (PTI)