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New Delhi, May 15, 2020
Union Minister of Health & Family Welfare Harsh Vardhan on Thursday launched the COBAS 6800 testing machine, the first such testing machine that has been procured by the Government for testing of COVID-19 cases.
The machine is installed at the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) here. The Minister also visited the Control Room and the Testing Laboratories, and reviewed the current status of COVID-19 testing with Dr S K Singh, Director, NCDC and senior officials.
Highlighting the achievements in ramping up the testing capability, Dr Harsh Vardhan said, “We have now developed a capacity to conduct 1,00,000 tests per day. Today marks an important milestone as we have tested nearly 20 lakh tests for COVID-19 mark at more than 500 laboratories including 359 Government laboratories and 145 private laboratories in the country.
“NCDC has been now equipped with the COBAS 6800, a fully automated, high-end machine for performing real-time PCR testing for COVID-19 in the service of the nation. COBAS 6800 will provide quality, high-volume testing with a high throughput of around 1200 samples in 24 hours. It will hugely increase the testing capacity with a reduction in pendency,” he added.
The Minister said COBAS 6800 was a sophisticated machine enabled with robotics that minimizes the chance of contamination as well as the risk of infection to the health care workers since it can be operated remotely with limited human intervention.
As the machine requires a minimum BSL2+ containment level for testing, it cannot be placed at just any facility. COBAS 6800 can also detect other pathogens like Viral Hepatitis B & C, HIV, MTb (both rifampicin and isoniazid resistance), Papilloma, CMV, Chlamydia, Neiserreia etc.
“I salute the pathologists, lab technicians, scientists and other staff who are our ‘Corona Warriors’ and working under tremendous risky conditions in their line of duty, day and night to save the fellow countrymen,” he said and appealed to the people not to stigmatize but applaud the contribution of these frontline healthcare providers.
Harsh Vardhan also lauded the dedication, hard work and sincerity of all the surveillance officers and encouraged them to continue the fight with renewed vigour. He emphasised on the quality and the sturdiness of the community surveillance and contact tracing.
“It is the need of the hour that all the people, who are either in-home or facility quarantine, need to maintain a strict vigil, and practise the laid down protocols of social distancing, and personal hygiene. Special care needs to be taken of the elderly, pregnant women and small children,” he said.
“It is heartening news that today, the last three days’ doubling time has slowed down to 13.9 days, while the doubling time in the past 14 days was 11.1. The fatality rate is 3.2% and the recovery rate has further improved and today stands at 33.6% (it was 32.83% yesterday).
“As of yesterday, there were 3.0% active COVID-19 patients in ICU, 0.39% on ventilators and 2.7% on oxygen support. Today, there are 14 States/UTs that have not reported any cases of COVID-19 in the last 24 hours. These are A&N Islands, Arunachal Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Chandigarh, Dadra & Nagar Haveli, Goa, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Jharkhand, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Puducherry, Telangana. Also, Daman & Diu, Sikkim, Nagaland and Lakshadweep have not reported any cases till now,” he added.
As of yesterday, a total of 78,003 COVID-19 cases have been reported from the country in which 26,235 persons have been cured and 2,549 deaths had occurred. In the last 24 hours, 3,722 new confirmed cases have been added.