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ICMR says COVID-19 testing should be widely available to all symptomatic individuals

New Delhi: Expanding the testing criterion for coronavirus, the Indian Council of Medical Research has said it should be made widely available to all symptomatic individuals across the country.

"Since test, track and treat' is the only way to prevent spread of infection and save lives, it is imperative that testing should be made widely available to all symptomatic individuals in every part of the country and contact tracing mechanisms for containment of infection are further strengthened," it said in an advisory on 'Newer Additional Strategies for COVID-19 Testing' on Tuesday.

In its revised testing strategy for COVID-19 issued on May 18, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) had advised testing for all symptomatic Influenza-like illness (ILI) among returnees and migrants within seven days of illness.

All hospitalised patients who develop ILI symptoms, symptomatic individuals living within hotspots or containment zones and healthcare and frontline workers involved in containment and mitigation of coronavirus were also advised testing.

The apex health research body has also advised authorities to enable all government and private hospitals, offices and public sector units to perform antibody-based COVID-19 testing for surveillance to help allay fears and anxiety of healthcare workers and office employees.

The earlier advisories on rapid antibody testing advisories had focused on areas reporting clusters (containment zones), large migration gatherings/evacuees centers and testing of symptomatic ILI individuals at facility level.

Besides, the ICMR on Tuesday also recommended deployment of rapid antigen detection tests for COVID-19 in combination with RT-PCR tests in all containment zones, all central and state government medical colleges and government hospitals, all private hospitals approved by the National Accreditation Board for Hospitals and Healthcare (NABH), all NABL-accredited and ICMR approved private labs, for COVID-19 testing.

All hospitals, laboratories and state governments intending to perform the point-of-care antigen tests need to register with ICMR to obtain the login credentials for data entry.

"ICMR advises all state governments, public and private institutions concerned to take required steps to scale up testing for COVID-19 by deploying combination of various tests as advised," the advisory added.

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