Covid-19 testing criteria may be widened


New Delhi: India is considering a proposal to broaden testing criteria for Covid-19 amid debate that they may be too narrow to detect community transmission of the disease. The high-level expert committee set up by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has suggested that all with atypical pneumonia and close contacts of Covid-19-positive persons be tested. Currently, only those who have come from affected areas overseas or have been in contact with such persons are being tested.

“The testing protocol has been reviewed and will be updated soon,” said an expert. “The suggestions to include atypical pneumonia patients and close contacts of Covid-19 positive patients have been given to the ministry today.” He clarified that India doesn’t intend to undertake mass testing as in South Korea.

“We will also have to see our testing capacity. As of now we don’t plan to allow all symptomatic patients to go for testing,” he said.

However to check whether there’s community transmission, the ICMR has also decided to pick up additional samples from Covid-19-affected areas for testing, as it proposes to expand random checks to keep tabs on whether this is happening, said Rajnikant Srivastava, scientist at India’s top health research body.

“The surveillance has been expanded to include more areas, specially those areas where Covid-19 cases have been reported,” he said. “All results of random samples are negative, which reassures that there is no community transmission yet.”

As per the current testing protocol, all asymptomatic patients who have undertaken international travel should be home quarantined for 14 days and tested only if they develop symptoms such as fever, cough or breathing difficulty. If the test is positive, they will be isolated and treated as per the protocol.

Additionally, all contacts of laboratory confirmed positive cases should be home quarantined for 14 days and tested only if they become symptomatic.





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