MUMBAI: Maharashtra Health Minister Rajesh Tope on Wednesday said seven more laboratories will come up across the state for testing suspected novel coronavirus cases.
At present, only three labs are operating in the state at Mumbai, Nagpur and Pune where samples of suspected persons are tested.
"KEM, JJ Hospital and Haffkine Institute will soon get the testing facilities. Most likely they will commence operations in the next five days," Tope told reporters.
Similar laboratories will come up in different parts of the state, he added.
At 42, Maharashtra has reported the highest number of COVID-19 cases in the country.
Tope also said the government was planning to open four more laboratories at state-run medical colleges in Nashik, Dhule, Miraj in Sangli district, and Aurangabad.
He said the necessary technical support and training will be imparted by Pune-based National Institute of Virology (NIV), which will also issue accreditation to these labs for carrying out tets for confirming novel coronavirus infection.
"I will visit the NIV as well as Naidu hospital where patients are admitted. During the visit to NIV, I will largely discuss how to set up lab facilities, coordinate samples and do data processing," said the minister.
These hospitals already have isolation wards for treating the infected patients.
The minister admitted that the Nagpur-based medical college, where samples of suspected coronavirus patients are being tested, has a shortage of the necessary kits.
"It is true that there was some shortage of kits. The Government of India has been procuring the kits for carrying out tests and we have posted our demand for more number of kits," he said.
Tope said while Maharashtra can place a separate order for procuring the kits, the state is strictly following the advice of the Union government.
Responding to a query on conducting coronavirus tests in various parts of the state, the minister said the Centre's instructions aren't clear.
"The directions say that a person having a travel history to Covid-19-affected countries and showing symptoms will be tested. Persons not fitting in either of the categories will not be tested for Covid-19," he said.
Tope said the state government was thinking of implementing mesures adopted by companies to reduce the number of people attending offices in view of the novel coronavirus outbreak, at state offices.