Covid-19 second wave: ICMR pushes for ramping up Rapid Antigen Testing

Lawrence Kim
May 7, 2021

Besides this, travel for non-essential purposes needs to be avoided at all costs and individuals having flu-like symptoms or symptoms of COVID-19 should also not travel.

"Although Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) testing is the gold standard test that has negligible chances of false negativity, an unprecedented upsurge of cases and deaths has made it imperative to optimize RT-PCR testing and simultaneously increase the access and availability of testing to people", Dr. Ravi said.

The Indian Council of Medical Research, in a fresh advisory aimed at optimising and scaling up testing, said the existing labs were facing challenges to meet testing targets under the "extraordinary case loads" and staff also becoming infected with Covid-19.

To boost testing using RATs, the research body allowed its use at all government and private medical facilities. According to the revised guidelines, RT-PCR tests need not be conducted if an individual has tested positive once through rapid antigen tests (RAT).

The medical research organization further stated the need for RTPCR test in healthy individuals undertaking inter-state domestic travel may be completely removed to reduce the load on laboratories.

Furthermore, the ICMR also seeks to remove mandatory negative RT-PCR test reports for healthy individuals undertaking inter-state domestic travel. "To meet the overwhelming testing demand, it will be prudent to upscale testing through RATs". To improve access and availability of testing, RATs were recommended in India for Covid-19 testing in June 2020. It also said that dedicated RAT booths can be set up in cities, towns and villages to allow people to get tested.

"Testing booths may be set up at multiple locations including healthcare facilities, RWA, offices, schools, colleges, community centres and other available vacant spaces".

India's health research agency on Tuesday recommended a stop to Covid-19 RT-PCR tests before inter-state travel and asked for 24x7 booths for rapid antigen tests nationwide in efforts to scale up surveillance at a time labs are under intense stress.

The ICMR also advised the states to use RAT tests, which have a turnaround time of 15 minutes to 30 minutes, for quick detection of cases so that patients can be treated early and the transmission of the infection can be curbed. As of 8.40 pm on Tuesday, the number of new covid-19 cases stood at 223,759. On the other hand, those who are infected in RT-PCR will also not be tested again.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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