Centre tells states to test more as Covid cases surge

New Delhi: The Centre on Wednesday asked the states to scale up testing as the number of Covid-19 cases continues to surge and the virus spreads to new areas, saying it was important to maintain strict vigil and make all efforts to minimise the damage that can be caused by the disease.

The Indian Council of Medical Research recommended the use of rapid antigen test kits for diagnosis and said laboratories should be free to test any individual in accordance with guidelines, emphasising that early testing will help to contain the virus and save lives.

“Efforts should be made in ‘campaign mode’ by setting up camps and using mobile vans in high-incidence areas to collect samples of all symptomatic individuals as well as their contacts and get those samples tested by using rapid antigen tests,” said ICMR director general Balram Bhargava and health secretary Preeti Sudan in a letter to state chief secretaries on Monday. They asked the states to ensure full capacity utilisation of testing labs.

“It has been observed that in some states the capacity utilisation of testing labs, particularly the ones in the private sector, is grossly suboptimal,” they said. States were also asked to finalise the rate for reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) tests by private labs.

ICMR has approved 1,049 public and private laboratories for Covid-19 testing, of which 761 are in public sector and 288 are in the private sector.

Suggesting that ‘test-track-treat’ was the key to early detection and containment of the pandemic, they said it was important to augment testing everywhere.

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“This is the only way to detect the infection early to prevent its spread,” the letter said.



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