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The Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) has informed all the states to permit laboratories for testing symptomatic individuals for COVID-19 infection. A doctor’s prescription should not be mandatory to undergo a COVID-19 test, said ICMR. The Health Secretary Preeti Sudan and ICMR director general Dr Balram Bhargava had written a letter to the states and union territories, stating that in view of the growing load on government healthcare facilities, this compulsory requirement might at times pose an obstruction for an individual to get tested and can lead to unnecessary delays.
Presently, a prescription from a government doctor was necessary to take a COVID-19 test in any laboratories across India. The medical body also had recommended that "laboratories should test any individual in accordance with the guidelines of ICMR ". Bhargava said the state should allow all the medical physicians including private doctors to prescribe COVID-19 test to anyone that fulfills the criteria for testing.
The test-track-treat is the only approach to detect and prevent the COVID-19 in the country. Hence, Bhargava has suggested all the states to escalate the testing facility. The medical body has already approved 761 public laboratories and 288 private laboratories for coronavirus testing.
To upgrade the testing facility in the country, Bhargava had advised:
1) States should arrange camps or use mobile vans to collect samples from areas of high density. The sample collected from all the symptomatic people and their contacts should be tested. ICMR had suggested antigen testing especially for containment areas. After this, the treatment of COVID-19 patients should be immediately started. COVID-19 negative patients should go ahead for RT-PCR tests.
2) The rate should be fixed in all tests for RT-PCR testing.
3) It must be mandatory for all laboratories to upload the testing informations on the ICMR databases and report to state and district authorities for investigation and contact tracing.
ICMRs Bhargava also recommended the states to emphasis more on contact tracing as it grasps the key to contain the virus. He had observed in some states that delimitation of containment zones and contact tracing is not been undertaken with accuracy and strictness.
Bhargava also suggested that antigen testing for early detection of COVID-19 infection. The rapid antigen tests can display results in 30 minutes and can be interpreted with a naked eye. The states can use as a point-of-care test in all containment zones and hospitals too.
The ICMR had earlier advised to use antigen kits with the gold standard RT-PCR test. The individuals who are suspected and test negative for COVID-19 by rapid antigen test should again to be tested by RT-PCR to rule out the coronavirus infection. The apex body said that the positive test results should be considered as true positive and should not reconfirm by RT-PCR test.
Source: live mint