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COVID-19: States must ensure RT-PCR test for symptomatic people, says Centre

In the letter, the Centre said that the move is necessary to ensure that symptomatic negative cases do not remain untested and do not spread the disease among their contacts.

Published: 11th September 2020 02:55 AM  |   Last Updated: 11th September 2020 09:48 AM   |  A+A-

People wait to give their nasal swab samples to test for COVID-19 in Gauhati, India, Thursday, Sept. 10, 2020. (Photo | AP)

By Express News Service

NEW DELHI:  Noting that in many large states symptomatic Covid-19 negative cases being tested by Rapid Antigen Tests (RAT) are not being followed up by RT-PCR testing, the Centre on Thursday asked them to mandatorily do that.

In a joint letter written to the states, the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and the ICMR have said that two specific categories of persons must necessarily be retested through RTPCR tests.

These include all symptomatic and asymptomatic RAT negative cases that develop symptoms within 2 to 3 days of being tested negative.

The directive came on a day the country detected a record 95,735 fresh cases and registered 1,172 deaths within a 24-hour period. India now has 4,465,863 confirmed cases of which 9,19, 018 active cases.

In the letter, the Centre said that the move is necessary to ensure that symptomatic negative cases do not remain untested and do not spread the disease among their contacts.

“This will also ensure early detection and isolation/hospitalization of such false negatives,” said the letter. The ministry has also urged the states to urgently establish a monitoring mechanism in every district.

The ministry has also urged them to urgently establish a monitoring mechanism via a designated officer or team in every district and at the state level for follow up on such cases.

These teams shall analyse details of the rapid antigen tests (RAT) conducted on a daily basis in the districts and states and ensure that there are no delays in retesting of all the symptomatic negative cases.

The ministry said it has noted that in some large states, symptomatic cases tested negative by RAT are not being followed up by RT-PCR testing.

The Guidelines of ICMR as well as the Union Health Ministry clearly state that all symptomatic (with fever, cough or breathlessness) negative cases of RAT and asymptomatic cases of RAT that develop symptoms within two to three days of being tested negative must necessarily be retested through RT-PCR tests.

"In this background, the Union Health Ministry and ICMR have jointly written to all the states and UTs and urged them to ensure that the all symptomatic negative cases of RAT are mandatorily retested using the RT-PCR test," the health ministry said.

"This is necessary to ensure that such symptomatic negative cases do not remain untested and do not spread the disease among their contacts," it said.

The ministry said this will also ensure early detection, isolation and hospitalization of such "false" negative cases.

It has also been reiterated in the joint letter that while the RAT is being used to increase access and availability of testing in the field, RT-PCR remains the gold standard of COVID tests, the ministry said.

It has also urged the states and UTs to urgently establish a monitoring mechanism in every district (via a designated officer or a team) and at the state level to follow up on such cases.

These teams shall analyse details of RAT conducted on a daily basis in the districts and state and ensure that there are no delays in retesting of all symptomatic negative cases, the ministry said.

"The aim of states and UTs should be to ensure that no potentially positive case is missed out.

They have also been advised to undertake an analysis on a regular basis to monitor the incidence of positives during the RT-PCR tests conducted as a follow up," it said.

The country saw a record single day spike of  95,735 infections and 1,172 fatalities, pushing India's COVID-19 caseload to 44,65,863 and death toll to 75,062, while the recoveries surged to 34,71,783 on Thursday, according to the Union health ministry data.

(With PTI Inputs)

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