NEW DELHI: The ICMR has asked states to scale up COVID-19 testing capacity to enable early detection and containment of the infection.
In a letter to chief secretaries of all states, Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) Director General Balram Bhargava said in an effort to ramp up the testing capacity, ICMR has approved a total of 960 labs in public and private sector.
"However, inspite of these developments in testing, there is an urgent need to introduce rapid point of care diagnostic tests to make testing widely available in all parts of the country," he said.
"I request you all to kindly take required steps to scale up the testing capacity in your respective state by adopting various available testing options, making testing available to all symptomatic individuals in your state.
This will enable early detection and containment of infection which in turn would save several lives," Bhargava said in the letter.
He said ICMR had been exploring alternate, quick and reliable options for diagnosis of COVID-19.
"ICMR and AllMS, Delhi independently evaluated the stand-alone rapid point of care antigen detection assay for quick diagnosis of SARS-CoV-2. The assay is known as Standard Q COVID-19 Ag kit. On validation, the test has been found to have a very high specificity with moderate sensitivity," the ICMR director said.
"ICMR now also recommends use of Standard Q COVID-19 Ag detection test as a point of care diagnostic assay for testing in the containment zones as well as hospitals in combination with the gold standard RT-PCR test by adopting various available testing options, making testing available to all symptomatic individuals in your state.
"This will enable early detection and containment of infection which in turn would save several lives," he said.
He said the ICMR has advised states on use of lgc antibody assays for conducting serosurveys in asymptomatic frontline workers like healthcare workers, sanitation workers, security staff among others for assessing their serostatus for COVID-19.
"Since test, track and treat is the only way to prevent spread of infection and save lives, it is imperative that testing should be made widely available to all symptomatic individuals in every part of the country and contact tracing mechanisms for containment of infection are further strengthened," he said.
It is advised that all the patients who are being tested may be requested to share one personal identity, issued by the government to establish the authenticity of the individual, he said.
"Also, it has been noted that the phone numbers shared by individuals at the time of testing are often incorrect.
"Therefore, it is advisable that at the time of testing, a missed call should be given on the shared phone number to verify its correctness," he added.