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ICMR asks hospitals to start rapid antigen tests as daily Covid-19 cases near 16,000-mark

The advisory said that all  medical colleges, govt hospitals, accredited private hospitals, and diagnostic labs approved to do the testing should use the antigen-based testing methods.

Published: 24th June 2020 03:42 PM  |   Last Updated: 24th June 2020 03:42 PM   |  A+A-

Health technicians use Rapid Antigen Kit to conduct COVID-19 testing, at a school in New Delhi. (Photo | PTI)

Express News Service

NEW DELHI: After a brief decline in the surge of fresh coronavirus cases, the new daily cases reached a record number on Wednesday morning yet again with 15,968 cases detected within a day.

The daily death count in the preceding 24 hours was 465 taking the infection-related death toll in the country to 14, 476. India now has 4,56, 183 confirmed Covid-19 cases of whom 1,83, 022 are active and 2,58,685 have recovered.

Amid rising cases and no sign of abetment in the pandemic, the government, meanwhile, intensified its Covid-19 testing strategy.

Country’s nodal agency for the pandemic in the document “Additional Strategies for Covid-19 Testing” issued on Tuesday evening asked healthcare settings to start using antigen-based testing kits, in addition to the gold standard RTPCR test, to diagnose the disease in suspects.

The latest advisory said that all government and private medical colleges, government hospitals, accredited private hospitals, and diagnostic laboratories approved to do the testing should also use the antigen-based testing methods.

ALSO READ | First antigen based COVID-19 testing kit approved in India, expected to ramp up testing capacity manifold

On June 15, the apex health research agency had validated the first antigen-based testing kit in India that allowed infected patients to be diagnosed much faster, at lower rates of about Rs 400 per test, and without laboratory examinations of the samples.

 So far antigen testing kit — which can detect the presence of molecules of the pathogen that triggers an immune response in an infected person — of only one private firm SD Biosensor—has been validated and was initially recommended for containment areas in containment zones and high-risk patients in hospitals.

 The ICMR has said that the approved kit has a very high specificity (ability to detect true negatives) but moderate sensitivity (ability to detect true positives) because of which it can be used in combination with the RTPCR test which has very high sensitivity as well.

“All labs/hospitals initiating testing through the rapid antigen test need to ensure that all symptomatic negative patients should be essentially referred to a real-time R-PCR test for Covid-19,” says the latest advisory. “This is particularly essential as the rapid antigen test has a moderate sensitivity.”

The agency underlined that since the test, track and treat is the only way to prevent the 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.

“ICMR advises all concerned state governments, public and private institutions to take required steps to scale-up testing for Covid-19 by deploying a combination of various tests as advised.”

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