India recorded 14000+ new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, the highest single-day spike that the country has seen to date. As the number of cases keep rising at an alarming rate, healthcare experts posit the need for proper monitoring and testing setups in remote areas of the country so as to fill the gaps in the COVID-19 data. The need also is to take cognisance of these villages which might have clusters of COVID-19 patients right now but no facilities to identify them or cater to their medical needs.
Recognising these needs, India's first mobile I-Lab (Infectious disease diagnostic lab) for last-mile access to Covid-19 testing was launched on Thursday by Dr Harsh Vardhan, Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare. It has the capacity to perform 25 Covid-19 RT-PCR tests per day. Besides that, it also provides the facility to test other diseases including 300 ELISA tests per day and additional tests for TB and HIV as well.
The I-Lab is all set to be deployed in remote, indiscreet, interior and inaccessible parts of the country so as to scale up its COVID-19 testing and provide timely assistance to people residing in these areas. "To ensure testing facilities in far-flung areas, such innovations have been developed in the interior, inaccessible parts of the country," Dr Vardhan said in a media statement while launching the I-lab.
As per the official statement circulated by the Ministry of Health regarding the I-lab, it has been launched under the Atma Nirbhar campaign and is supported by the Department of Biotechnology and Ministry of Science and Technology, as part of centre's COVID-Command strategy. The step has been taken to address the worrying shortage of critical healthcare technologies in rural India especially when a pandemic spreads like a wildfire in the country.
India is already looking at the 4 lakh mark in terms of its COVID-19 cases as it currently stands at an approximate total of 3.78 lakh identified cases in the country. Though, on Thursday the country also crossed the 2 lakh mark in terms of the total recoveries taking the recovery rate to 52.96 per cent, which is a good sign.
With the launch of I-Lab, we might finally be able to get an idea of the ground realities as the stats from Indian villages and remote areas finally begin to reflect on the country's COVID-19 tally. Also, given India's large population concentrated in rural areas, a single I-Lab is surely not going to suffice. Thus, the need right now is to launch more such labs in various parts of the country. Hopefully, that's the administration's plan too.