Amid the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic, the Centre has issued fresh guidelines to states to reduce the burden on diagnostic laboratories conducting coronavirus tests. The need for RT-PCR test in “healthy” travellers and recovered Covid patients may be completely removed, it said.
The advisory was issued by the Indian Medical Centre of Research (ICMR) in view of laboratories facing challenges to meet the expected testing target due to exponential cases and staff getting infected with Covid.
“At present, the laboratories are facing challenges to meet the expected testing target due to extraordinary caseload and staff getting infected with COVID-19. In view of this situation, it is imperative to optimize the RT-PCR testing and simultaneously increase the access and availability of testing to all citizens of the country,” the apex health research body said.
As a result, these individuals do not need RT-PCR tests anymore:
- Any individual who has tested positive once either by RAT or RT-PCR
- Any individual who has completed 10 days in home isolation period with no fever for the last three days
- Those getting discharged from the hospital
- Healthy individuals undertaking inter-state domestic travel
Non-essential travel and interstate travel of symptomatic individuals (Covid-19 or flu-like symptoms) should be essentially avoided to reduce the risk of infection and that all asymptomatic individuals undertaking essential travel must follow Covid appropriate behaviour, the ICMR stated.
The ICMR also advised all states to ensure full utilization of the available RT-PCR testing capacity, both in public and private laboratories, and added that symptomatic individuals identified positive by RAT should not be re-tested and advised to go through home-based care as per ICMR guidelines.
Symptomatic individuals identified negative by RAT should be linked with R-TPCR test facility and in the meantime be urged to follow home isolation and treatment.
During the current upsurge of Covid-19 cases, any individual presenting with fever with/without cough, headache, sore throat, breathlessness, body ache, the recent loss of taste or smell, fatigue, and diarrhea should be considered as a suspect case of Covid-19 unless proven otherwise by confirmation of another etiology, the advisory said.
The vaccination status of all individuals tested for Covid-19 must be entered into the Sample Referral Form (SRF) in the RT-PCR app, both for individuals tested by RT-PCR and RAT. This information is of critical importance, the advisory said.
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