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India's first Biosafety level-3 mobile lab launched in Nashik

Nashik (Maharashtra) : India's first Biosafety level-3 containment mobile laboratory was launched in Nashik on Friday. According to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, the mobile laboratory has been set up to investigate newly emerging and re-emerging viral infections that are highly infectious and of lethal potential to human beings. The mobile laboratory provides a public health solution to this problem. It can be simply driven around to various locations, just like a normal bus. This laboratory will be able to access remote and forested areas of the country where specially trained scientists from ICMR can investigate outbreaks using samples from humans and animal sources. These activities will ensure timely and on-site diagnosis with a rapid turnaround time for reporting these outbreaks. Union Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare Bharati Pravin Pawar inaugurated the laboratory today. Speaking on the occasion, the Union Minister said that the Biosafety level-3 mobile laboratory is a significant value addition to the government's efforts to strengthen healthcare infrastructure through the Pradhan Mantri Ayushman Bharat Health Infrastructure Mission. She said the mobile lab will help in real-time data collection which will enable us to ensure quick containment and prevent further spread of any emerging viral infections. The laboratory has been designed and built by the Indian Council of Medical Research in collaboration with Mumbai based bio-safety equipment maker Klenzaids. DG, Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), Dr Balram Bhargava termed the launch of the mobile laboratory as 'historic' and added that this is the first Mobile BSL-3 Laboratory of South Asia region. The DG recalled that during the Nipah virus outbreak in Kerala, samples had to be transported to National Institute of Virology, Pune. "It was then we felt a mobile laboratory could be of great help during outbreaks of highly infectious pathogens. Such mobile Laboratories can be stationed at different regions of the country and may be mobilised in case of sudden outbreaks," said DG, ICMR The Union Health Ministry said the existing infrastructure of BSL-3 laboratories is fixed and dependent on transporting samples from near and far locations, often leading to delays in diagnosis. In view of repeated outbreaks of highly infectious pathogens like Nipah, Zika, Avian influenza and now COVID, it is critical to be able to detect the emerging epidemics or pandemics at a very early stage to enable quick containment and prevent spread. To address this issue, ICMR and Klenzaids joined hands to design and build India's first Mobile BSL-3 enhanced laboratory. Built at a cost of about Rs 25 crores, the BSL-3 enhanced laboratory is a self-sufficient unit, which has every system and equipment essential for full standalone operation. According to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, the laboratory is airtight, access-controlled, bio-decontaminable, fitted with safe change HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Absorbing) filtration and biological liquid waste decontamination system. The lab is controlled through an intelligent control automation system, which maintains the working environment under negative air pressure, maintains equipment parameters and records all necessary data.

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