ICMR Revises COVID-19 Testing Strategy: Who Can Get Tested? 

Can all symptomatic cases be tested? Can asymptomatic close contacts of confirmed cases be tested? 

2 min read
Can all symptomatic cases be tested? Can asymptomatic close contacts of confirmed cases be tested? 

On Wednesday, 1 April, India had a total of 1397 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 35 deaths.

One of the major issues with our COVID-19 preparedness and protocol has been the limited testing.

However, according to a report in The Economic Times, the government is looking to increasing testing on all symptomatic cases.

Alarmed by the rapidly increasing number of cases, a senior government official told ET that they would be expanding their testing strategy. This is not final, but a new committee has been set to deliberate upon the risks and benefits of this move.

This would be a significant change in the strategy as till now, ICMR’s stance on increased testing has been to avoid “indiscriminate testing” on people that do not require it and create fears around “false positives.”

For now, ICMR ad the government told the media on Tuesday 31 March evening, that they are looking to identify infection hotspots and speed up contact tracing.

“With a non-communicable disease, we would have decided a number to designate a place as a hotspot. But for this, even a single case is a hotspot because it is a communicable disease. We are identifying hotspots based on confirmed cases or where the population density and risk is high,” said Agarwal.

Earlier on 20 March, the ICMR revised their testing strategy to include testing asymptomatic close contacts of confirmed cases.

  1. All symptomatic individuals who have undertaken international travel in the last 14 days
  2. All symptomatic contacts of laboratory-confirmed cases.
  3. All symptomatic health care workers.
  4. All hospitalized patients with Severe Acute Respiratory Illness (fever AND cough and/or shortness of breath).
  5. Asymptomatic direct and high-risk contacts of a confirmed case should be tested once between day 5 and day 14 of coming in his/her contact

The testing strategy has been an evolving process, like Luv Agarwal, Joint Secretary of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MOHFW) said, “it is an evolving strategy for an evolving situation.”

It has been reviewed by the National Task Force constituted by Secretary DHR & DG, ICMR and chaired by NITI Aayog Professor V. K. Paul.

(With inputs from The Economic Times)

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