Pressure is on Modi government to increase the number of tests it conducts to diagnose novel coronavirus (COVID-19) at least from one state government. Chhattisgarh Health Minister T S Singh Deo has on April 1 asked Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) to come out with comprehensive guidelines for use of rapid antibody testing kits for COVID-19.
In a letter to Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan, the Chhattisgarh minister said that several countries across the world are using rapid tests quite effectively and wanted ICMR to lay down expeditiously clear criteria on the use and purchase of rapid antibody testing kits. He said that his state has no capacity to do the assessment on its own, but expanding testing regime is necessary to contain the spread of the pandemic.
The minister also sought approval for two COVID-19 test centres in Chhattisgarh.
As on April 1, Chhattisgarh has carried out COVID-19 testing on 787 individuals. While report on 46 samples are awaited, nine have tested positive.
As part of its preparations to fight the disease, the government has set up 74 quarantine centres that can house 1,249 patients if need be. It has 258 functional ventilators in public institutions and 364 in private healthcare facilities. The state has also designated 8 healthcare institutions with a combined bed capacity of 2,000 for treatment of COVID-19.
Even though ICMR has approved marketing of rapid test kits, it is still preferring PCR based tests over rapid tests.