In a bid to reduce the load on the testing laboratories as India's COVID-19 positivity rate remains high, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has revised the coronavirus testing guidelines. According to the revised guidelines, RT-PCR tests need not be conducted if an individual has tested positive once through rapid antigen tests (RAT).
The ICMR added that mandatory RT-PCR tests for healthy people undertaking inter-state domestic travel may be completely removed to reduce the burden on testing labs across the country.
Apart from designated test labs, testing facilities can be set up at locations like healthcare facilities, RWA, offices, schools, colleges, community centres and other vacant spaces. These facilities should be operational 24x7. States can also build up their RT-PCR testing capacity using mobile systems like mobile laboratories on the GeM portal.
Besides this, travel for non-essential purposes needs to be avoided at all costs and individuals having flu-like symptoms or symptoms of COVID-19 should also not travel. Asymptomatic individuals, who are travelling for essential purposes, should follow COVID-appropriate behaviour.
As of today, India has 2,506 molecular testing laboratories, including RT-PCR, TrueNat, CBNAAT and other platforms. Around 15 lakh tests can be conducted using the existing testing network, according to the ICMR.
Director of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) Dr Randeep Guleria has warned against conducting repeated CT scans in mild COVID-19 cases. He added it can do more harm than good and has side-effects, including cancer.
Dr Guleria said, "One CT scan is equivalent to 300-400 chest x-rays. According to data, repeated CT scans in younger age groups increase the risk of cancer in later life. Exposing yourself to radiation, again and again, may cause damage. So, there is no point in doing a CT scan in mild COVID-19 if the oxygen saturation is normal."
Edited by Mehak Agarwal