Mandatory rapid antigen tests for 'high risk' individuals: Delhi govt

New Delhi: The Health Department of the Delhi government on Sunday directed all healthcare facilities in the city to compulsorily test specified groups of "high risk" individuals who visit their facility with the Rapid Antigen Test kits.

According to the order issued by the Principal Secretary in the Department of Health and Family Welfare, "medical directors, medical superintendent of all hospitals of Government of NCT of Delhi are directed to ensure that Rapid Antigen Detection Testing of all individuals/patients" in these categories "is mandatorily done".

The Delhi government said the categories of high-risk individuals include all patients with ILI (Influenza-Like Illness) symptoms, all patients admitted at a facility with SARI (Severe Acute Respiratory Illness) and all asymptomatic patients undergoing aerosol-generating interventions.

In addition to this, the order has also mandated testing of all individuals seeking to get admitted to or already admitted to a facility under categories that include, patients undergoing chemotherapy, immunosuppressed patients, including HIV positive patients, patients with Malignant disease, transplant patients, and all elderly patients above the age of 65 with comorbidities.

While Rapid antigen testing is not a fool-proof test for COVID-19, it is mostly used for examining, screening and quickly isolating patients who might be at risk of having the virus or at risk of transmitting it.

In fact, experts have said that these rapid tests will just test whether the body has started generating antibodies to the novel Coronavirus. This would mean that if a person is positive, it could mean that they have the virus or have already recovered from it.

The national guidelines also state that a person with a negative rapid test result must be tested through the RT-PCR method — the gold standard — for confirmation. However, a positive result will just assume that it is a true positive and lead to a quarantine.

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