ICMR allows on-demand testing for Covid-19 in India
The ICMR guidelines suggest that 100 percent of people living in the containment zones should be tested by Rapid Antigen Testing
The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has issued an advisory allowing testing on-demand for Covid-19, keeping it flexible for the states to adapt to the recommendation as per their requirements.
“ICMR’s advisory is generic in nature and may be modified as per the discretion of state health authorities,” said the advisory as quoted in a Hindustan Times report.
The advisory came after the Delhi High Court asked the state government to re-strategize its policy to include asymptomatic patients for testing.
Rapid antigen testing (RAT) is the preferred strategy for screening in Covid-19 containment zones according to the ICMR guidelines.
People with influenza-like illnesses, all direct and high-risk contacts are required to be screened, said the advisory.
“Ideally, it is suggested that 100% of people living in the containment zones should be tested by RAT particularly in cities where there has been a widespread transmission of the infection,” the ICMR guidelines said, according to the report.
The ICMR strategy suggests that in the non-containment zones, preference should be given to molecular methods to test all those with influenza-like symptoms, all symptomatic contacts of confirmed cases, and all asymptomatic high-risk contacts, the report said.
It further said that testing methods like reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) should also be used for routine testing of all symptomatic travelers within seven days of illness and healthcare or frontline workers involved in Covid-19 management.
The Hindustan Times report quoted the ICMR guidelines as saying that molecular tests should be preferred over RAT within hospitals for testing those with severe acute respiratory infections, all patients with influenza-like symptoms, all asymptomatic high-risk contacts in need of hospitalization, asymptomatic patients undergoing surgery or other invasive procedures, and all pregnant women in or near labor.
The strategy also suggested testing those with the atypical presentations for Covid-19 such as stroke, encephalitis, blood mixed sputum, pulmonary embolism, and acute heart conditions.