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ICMR issues new advisory, updates COVID-19 testing strategy

The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) on Thursday updated its testing strategy for COVID-19 that has now affected almost 6,000 people in the country. According to the revised strategy, “asymptomatic direct and high-risk contacts of a confirmed case should be tested once between days 5 and day 14 of coming in his/her contactâ€.

It also brought under the testing protocol all symptomatic individuals who have undertaken international travel in the last 14 days.

All symptomatic contacts of laboratory-confirmed cases will also have to be tested.

The new strategy will also cover all symptomatic health care workers and all patients with Severe Acute Respiratory Illness (fever and cough and/or shortness of breath), the ICMR said.

In hotspots/cluster (as designated by the Union ministry of health and family welfare) in large migration gatherings/evacuees centers, all symptomatic ILI (fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose) will have to be tested within 7 days of illness (Real-time polymerase chain reaction or RRT-PCR)

After 7 days of illness, the ICMR suggested an antibody test (If negative, confirmed by RRT-PCR).

There are 139 government laboratories and 65 private ones that are currently authorized to carry out tests for COVID-19. Private labs have started testing only recently.

Earlier Thursday, the ICMR states that it won’t recommend hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) medicine for COVID-19 patients unless tests show satisfactory results.

ICMR’s top scientist Raman Gangakhedkar once again reiterated his statement that India has still not entered the third stage (or community transmission) of the COVID-19 outbreak.

There has been a huge demand for Hydroxychloroquine after preliminary trials in China suggested it boosted recovery and lowered the severity of the coronavirus disease.

Also Read: COVID-19 tests must be free in government, private labs: Supreme Court


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