In its first meeting, the empowered panel on COVID-19, co-chaired by Vinod Paul, member of the federal government’s policy think tank NITI Ayog and K. VijayaRaghavan, Principal Scientific Adviser to the federal government allowed all its national laboratories to carry out clinical testing on COVID-19.
“National research labs are permitted to carry out clinical testing for COVID-19 based on self-assessment and willingness to follow established protocols and all applicable reporting regulations as defined by the DHR/ICMR (federal Department of Health Research/Indian Council of Medical Research)", reads an order issued by VijayaRaghavan.
The national research labs were permitted to access samples for COVID-19-related research from any government approved clinical testing sites or access clinical samples received by them for testing, subject to the ethical approval of such research.
The panel asked the research labs under the federal Ministry of Science and Technology, Ministry of Defence, and Department of Atomic Energy to rapidly share the results of such research to maximise the impact of this work.
India, whose first COVID-19 case was reported on 30 January in the southern state of Kerala, has so far reported five deaths, 324 active cases including 41 foreign nationals. Twenty-four persons, who were affected by the viral infection, have been cured or discharged, according to the federal Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
Meanwhile, many Indians have heeded a call by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to stay at home from 7:00 a.m. IST to 9:00 p.m. IST to limit the fast-spreading coronavirus epidemic. Streets and market places are deserted, except for emergency services, and trains and metro transport are also shut down.