Due to massive increase in pressure on diagnostic labs testing for Coronavirus, Indian Medical Research Centre (ICMR) has advised against the compulsion of a RT-PCR negative report for inter-state travel. By Presha Mahajan
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“The need for RT-PCR test in healthy individuals undertaking inter-state domestic travel may be completely removed to reduce the load on laboratories,” ICMR stated, as reported by Mint.
With the twin challenge of laboratories being unable to keep pace with the testing targets and their staff contracting Coronavirus, the bio-medical research agency instead suggests ramping up the use of Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) to comply with the demand. Although considered less accurate than RT-PCR, RAT detects the presence of COVID-19 in under 30 minutes. The advantage RAT offers is the immediate diagnosis, and the opportunity to curb transmission through isolating and treating the affected. Those who test positive by RAT will be given prompt care, but individuals who test negative yet display typical COVID-19 symptoms will be connected to a RT-PCR facility. People with fever, cough, breathlessness, sore throat, fatigue, body ache, loss of smell or taste will be deemed COVID-19 positive, unless proven otherwise by more accurate and efficient aetiology.
To augment rapid antigen testing, booths will be set up at various locations like private and government hospitals, colleges, offices and schools, resident welfare associations (RWA), community centres, drive-throughs, and other available vacant spaces. Stringent regulation will be exerted by local administrations to prevent overcrowding at the testing centres. These will be operational 24 hours a day to scale up speed.
ICMR also recommends establishing mobile laboratories at government e-marketplace portals (GeM) to supplement RT-PCR testing. Additionally, they have made it mandatory for the vaccination status of all those tested for COVID-19, either by RAT or RT-PCR, to be recorded in the sample referral form available on the RT-PCR app. The authorities note that such information is of utmost importance.
The government agency has also advised avoiding non-essential inter-state travel, especially by symptomatic individuals. Those who are asymptomatic will have to necessarily undertake extreme precaution and all COVID-compliant behaviours. Risk of infection should be foiled at all costs, and citizens should do their part in preventing the spread of the virus, state the agency.
Editor’s Note: Keeping the current situation of the pandemic in mind, T+L India recommends every reader to stay safe, and take all government-regulated precautions in case travel at this time is absolutely necessary. Please follow our stories on #IndiaFightsCorona for all the latest travel guidelines.