THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: While the fear of community transmission continues to hang in the air, Kerala has adopted testing as its mantra to combat Covid-19. Shaping new strategies, the health department is now augmenting testing facilities to reach out to more people and to ensure faster results. The state will also become part of a nationwide testing programme being carried out by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) to identify community transmission. Palakkad and Thrissur districts will become part of the programme.
An officer with the health department told TNIE, “WHO itself says that to contain Covid-19 the key is test, test, and test. Adhering to the same, it has been decided to introduce Xpert-SARS-CoV testing for confirmation and Truenat-beta-CoV testing for screening. At the same time, RT-PCR tests will continue as the principal diagnostic test.” While Xpert-SARS-CoV is an RT-PCR test, Truenat-beta-CoV is recommended as a PCR test.
Express has learnt that Xpert-SARS-CoV testing will be done at the three government medical colleges of Thiruvananthapuram, Ernakulam and Kozhikode while GeneXpert/Truenat-beta-CoV testing will be used in the private sector.
On whom to use Xpert-SARS-CoV test?
As per a health department directive, Xpert-SARS-CoV tests should be carried out on any Covid suspect slated for emergency surgery. It could be used among symptomatic healthcare workers having high exposure to Covid-19, patients with severe acute respiratory illness for whom an early test result will have a role in clinical management, and Covid-19 suspected deaths requiring testing for further action. The results can be obtained within 45 minutes.
Truenat-beta-CoV test for screening
For the Truenat-beta-CoV test, a person should possess a Covid-19 test request form issued by a registered modern medicine practitioner at the Designated Sample Collection Facility. Each test will cost I1,500. BPL patients having the Karunya Arogya Suraksha Paddhati card can test for free, with private labs given the provision to reimburse the cost from KASP. Plans are on to conduct random antibody testing among healthcare workers, police, home delivery people, volunteers and migrant labourers to rule out community transmission.