Photo Credit: Hanif Sindhi
Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan and Director-General of ICMR Balram Bhargava wrote to the chief secretaries of all States and Union Territories to up their testing capabilities and ensure that anyone with cold, cough, headache and fever is tested as a suspected Covid patient.
In the letter, the officials stated, “As of now, India has a network of 3,117 molecular testing laboratories, which includes 2,014 RT-PCR centres, 941 TrueNat, 132 CBNAAT and 30 other testing platforms. The estimated national daily molecular testing capacity is over 20 lakh.”
The officials asked the states and UTs to upscale testing in their region by “fully utilizing the existing molecular testing capabilities”.
“In addition, the states and UTs must expedite procurement of necessary testing equipment and establish BSL-2 Laboratory infrastructure from the funds sanctioned under the Emergency Covid-19 Response Plan (ECRP),” the letter read.
The officials also encouraged the states to make more use of rapid antigen tests instead of RT-PCR, given its turnaround time. “Based on the previous experience, it has been observed that if the number of cases rise above a certain threshold, RT-PCR based testing leads to delays in confirming diagnosis due to its turnaround time of 5-8 hours,” the officials wrote.
The officials also asked the states and UTs to encourage the use of home testing kits for symptomatic individuals. “Seven such home testing kits have been approved so far, and two of them are also available at GeM,” the letter added.