Centre to aggressively use Rapid Antigen Test for Covid-19 identification; villages, cities to have 24*7 booths

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With the rising Covid-19 cases in the country amid the ongoing second wave of the pandemic, Dr Balaram Bharagava, chief, Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) addressed the issue along with a fresh strategy about the country’s testing strategy to overcome the pandemic. The fresh strategy consists of an increased focus over rapid antigen tests (RAT) which will accelerate faster testing and isolation, said Dr Bharagava at the press conference highlighting the relevance of early detection and isolation, which he iterated is the major key to break the transmission cycle.

He further added that the present requirement is to amplify the usage of RAT for field and the rural levels to further increase access and availability and detection.

According to the updated testing strategy, several operational 24*7 booths will be created in cities, towns, villages, he said. Dr Bharagava further added, “RATs will be allowed at all government and private healthcare facilities without the need of any accreditation. The booths for RAT will be set up with the community in schools, colleges, community centers and offices of the RWAs.”

He also mentioned the private and the public ownership models are put forth to create innovative and convenient testing centres, iterating that a few states have already followed it. Along with RT-PCR, Dr Bhargava added that home-based testing solutions are being further explored. Amid a press briefing, he said, “No need for RT-PCR test in healthy individuals undertaking inter-state domestic travel, non-essential travel and interstate travel of symptomatic individuals should be essentially avoided.”

He further added, “All asymptomatic individuals undertaking essential travel must follow Covid appropriate behaviour.”

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