Wednesday, May 5, 2021

No need for RT-PCR tests if...': ICMR issues new testing guidelines for Covid-19


 Any individual with fever, headache, sore throat, breathlessness, body ache, the recent loss of taste or smell, fatigue, diarrhea should be considered as a suspect case of Covid-19 unless proven otherwise by confirmation of another etiology, the new guideline said.


Though the Centre repeatedly asked states and Union territories to increase the proportion of RT-PCR tests to at least 70 per cent of all Covid-19 tests being conducted, the Indian Council of Medical Research, in its new testing guideline issued on Tuesday, has talked about reducing RT-PCR tests to take the load off the existing laboratories.

ICMR has recommended no RT-PCR tests if

> An individual has tested positive by rapid antigen test.

> An individual has tested positive once by RT-PCR test.

> One has completed 10 days home isolation period with no fever for the last three days.

> At the time of hospital discharge.

> A healthy individual is undertaking interstate domestic travel. While this is a requirement imposed by states, ICMR said this can completely be removed to reduce the load on laboratories.

At a national level, India can test close to 15 lakh tests in its 2,506 molecular testing laboratories, including RT-PCR, TrueNat, CBNAAT and other platforms. But with a sudden surge in the number of RT-PCR tests and many staff testing positive and thus being relieved from duties, the laboratories are overburdened. It is taking over 72 hours to process one RT-PCR test now.

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