India to enhance lab capacities for monkeypox testing

Abhishek Law | | Updated on: Jul 25, 2022

Blood sample isolated for monkeypox virus test. | Photo Credit: Md Saiful Islam Khan

Guidelines issued to State govts to “step up surveillance”

The Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare plans to convert 17 integrated disease surveillance programme laboratories across some States, as additional monkey pox testing labs. The conversion and upgrade of the labs are expected over the next seven days, senior officials told BusinessLine.

The move is expected to help in quicker testing of suspected monkeypox virus samples and hasten detection of cases.

The need to increase lab count had come up for discussion during the high-level meeting called by the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) on Sunday.

“Some minor modifications are required in these IDSP labs. So in a week or seven-days’ time, the labs should be ready for testing of monkeypox viruses. The addition of the new labs will facilitate early detection and prevention,” the official said.

At present, there are 15 ICMR trained research and diagnostic laboratories in the country.

“To help the country’s preparedness for monkeypox detection, 15 virus research and diagnostic laboratories across the country, which are geographically well distributed and strategically located have already been trained in the diagnostic test by ICMR – NIV Pune,” the ICMR said in a tweet .

India has so far reported four confirmed cases of monkeypox, while samples have been sent for testing in the case of a suspected fifth case from Telangana. “We are awaiting reports,” the Health Ministry official said adding that the condition of the four patients – three from Kerala and one from New Delhi – are stable and “they are recovering well”.

In the current global outbreak, over 16,000 cases have been reported across 70-odd countries so far, and the number of confirmed infections rose 77 per cent from late June through early July, as per WHO data.

The WHO had earlier declared it as a public health emergency of international concern.

Stepping up surveillance

According to the Ministry official, guidelines have been issued to State governments to “step up surveillance” and continue on the tracking, testing and treatment and isolation protocols of monkeypox cases. These also include monitoring the close contacts of the patients.

“ The Centre will also help and step in where necessary. We had sent teams to Kerala too,” he said.

Satish Koul, Director, Internal Medicine, Fortis Memorial Research Institute, said the virus spreads by close contact, skin-to-skin contact and droplet infection. “Being a viral disease the total duration is around three to four weeks. As of now, prevention is better than cure,” he said.

Covid cases

Meanwhile, India reported 16,866 Covid cases,on a 24-hour basis. Daily cases came down in comparison to the 20,200 infections reported a day-before (July 24). However, the country’s daily positivity rate was at 7.03 per cent, after nearly 170 days; while the weekly positivity rate was at 4.43 per cent.

Active cases decreased by 1,323, and they account for 0.34 per cent of the total infections in the country. Recovery rate was 98.46 per cent, data from the Ministry said.

Published on July 25, 2022
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