ICMR to release rapid-testing norms from April 4

Maitri Porecha New Delhi | Updated on April 03, 2020

Currently, 130 government labs and 52 private labs are involved in the ‘Real Time Polymerase Chain Reaction’ tests   -  MONEY SHARMA

Global coronavirus numbers cross one-million mark

The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) will release new guidlines on conducting rapid tests for Covid-19 by Saturday.

“The National Task Force had convened a meeting regarding how to deploy rapid antibody tests in high-risk hotspots or in non-high-risk areas and is working on the guidelines,” said Manoj Murhekar, Director, National Institute of Epidemiology (NIE).

As on April 3, the Covid-19 tally in India was 2,547 , of which 163 were cured and 62 had died. With 335 cases, Maharashtra has the highest number, followed by Tamil Nadu (309), Kerala (286), Delhi (219), Rajasthan (133), Andhra Pradesh (132), Karnataka (124), Uttar Pradesh (113) and Telangana (107).

According to statistics from the US-based Johns Hopkins University’s Coronavirus Resource Centre, globally, the number of confirmed cases has surpassed the one million mark; while the death toll surged over 50,000, more than two lakh have recovered.

Even as directives on how to conduct the rapid finger-prick blood tests that may give screening results in just 30 minutes are yet to be provided, certain private companies have started selling home kits online, claiming that they have received regulatory approvals for them, according to industry sources.

States awaiting guidance

With cases on the rise and the increasing possibility of even asymptomatic persons carrying the virus spreading it, there is a need to issue guidance on how to conduct mass testing. Various States are keenly awaiting guidance on how to conduct rapid antibody tests at hotspots, and have placed on hold the kit orders they have placed with vendors, sources said.

Lav Agarwal, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, said that because of shortage of kits, there has to be a strategy in place while giving out the guidance. “In the absence of such guidelines, it is inadvisable to conduct any home-based self-testing,” warned Malini Aisola, co-convenor, All India Drug Action Network.

Murhekar said that currently 130 government and 52 private labs are doing the Real Time Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) test, which involves collecting nasal and throat swabs and subjecting them to DNA testing for confirming if a person is suffering from Covid-19.

“So far, 66,000 samples have been tested, and on April 2 alone, up to 8,000 samples were tested, the highest till date,” he said.

Meanwhile, Minister of Health and Family Welfare Harsh Vardhan inspected the preparedness at Delhi’s Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital, which has emerged a Covid-19 hotspot.

Published on April 03, 2020

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