Healthy individuals who are undertaking interstate domestic travel does not have to take the RT-PCR test, recommends an ICMR advisory regarding Covid-19 testing. This is advised to reduce the load on laboratories.
There is no need to repeat the test in individuals who have tested positive once either by rapid antigen tests (RAT) or RT-PCR, and the same is not required for recovered patients, the advisory further stated.
The ICMR issued the advisory as laboratories across the country facing challenges meeting the expected testing targets as the infection rate surges exponentially. The health research body recommended increasing RAT tests and making them available in all government/private healthcare facilities across cities and villages since it provides results in 15-30 minutes, offering the massive advantage of quick detection of cases and the opportunity to isolate or treat patients. But its use is currently limited to containment zones and healthcare settings.
The advisory is of the opinion that to meet the current test demands, it is necessary to upscale RATs. Also, it says that testing booths should be set up in offices, schools, colleges, community centres and any vacant spaces and should be available 24X7. The creation of Drive-through testing facilities is also recommended.
The advisory also mandates that overcrowding in Covid test centres should be checked by local administration through implementing stringent measures.
The advisory recommends that symptomatic individuals who tested positive in RATs should not be retested but sent to home-based care. If they are tested negative, they should be retested with RT-PCR and should be urged to follow home isolation and treatment as per the ICMR guidelines. Also, individuals presented with fever with or without cough, headache, sore throat, breathing issues, body pains, sudden loss of smell or taste, fatigue and diarrhoea should be considered as infected unless proven otherwise.
It also added that interstate travel of symptomatic individuals should be avoided to reduce the risk of infection, and asymptomatic individuals should follow strict pandemic measures while taking essential journeys.
The vaccination status of all individuals tested for Covid-19 must be entered into the Sample Referral Form (SRF) in the RT-PCR app for those tested by RT-PCR and RAT since the information is critically important, the advisory said.
India has 2,506 molecular testing laboratories, including TR-PCR, TrueNat, CBNAAT, as of May 4. The daily testing capacity is estimated close to 15 lakhs supposing the existing laboratory network is operated on a three-shift basis.
(based on PTI story)