Covid Testing: ICMR's new advisory recommends scaling up rapid antigen tests

07 Mai, 2021, 02:45 | Auteur: Christine Menetries
  • ICMR revises COVID-19 testing guidelines no RT-PCR needed if you've tested positive via RAT

According to the revised guidelines, RT-PCR tests need not be conducted if an individual has tested positive once through rapid antigen tests (RAT).

To boost testing using RATs, the research body allowed its use at all government and private medical facilities.

"The need for RT-PCR test in healthy individuals undertaking inter-state domestic travel may be completely removed to reduce the load on laboratories", the government's flagship bio-medical research agency said in its advisory.

States have to ensure full utilisation of the available RT-PCR testing capacity in both in public and private laboratories. The total daily national testing capacity is close to 15 lakh tests considering a three-shift operationalization of the existing laboratory network.

"At present, the laboratories are facing challenges to meet the expected testing target due to extraordinary case load and staff getting infected with COVID-19".

The country's overall positive rate is now 20%, four times the target rate of 5% or less as the RT-PCR testing has been unable to match up to the surge in covid-19 cases.

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V. Ravi, nodal officer for genomic confirmation of SARS-CoV-2 in Karnataka, who is also part of the State's Technical Advisory Committee (TAC), said with symptomatic patients being prime drivers of the infection in Karnataka, rapid tests will help cut transmission at an early stage. However, the use of these tests is now limited to containment zones and healthcare settings. However, the use of these tests was limited to containment zones and health care settings as RAT had a short turn turnaround time of 15-30 minutes and thus offers a huge advantage of quick detection of cases, isolate and treatment, ICMR said. This comes in the wake of the Centre's latest guidelines advising upscaling the use of RAT kits to meet the overwhelming demand for Covid testing.

Set up dedicated RAT booths in cities, towns, and villages to offer testing to people.

It said that mobile testing labs were available on Government e-Marketplace, an online portal for government departments to procure commonly-needed goods and services.

The ICMR said RT-PCR -the standard and high-reliability diagnostic test - should not be repeated on anyone who has tested positive either through RT-PCR or through the alternative but less reliable rapid antigen test (RAT).

Drive-through RAT testing facilities may be created at convenient locations as identified by the local administration. On Tuesday, the country's single-day Covid numbers were 3.35 lakh cases and 3,449 deaths in 24 hours. PMR tests around 34,000-41,000 Covid tests daily and 70% of the testing was done through RT-PCR.

Experts say early diagnosis and treatment is critical to patients' chances of recovery.

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