Govt expands COVID19 testing, asks hospitals to test all patients with respiratory illness
New Delhi, Mar 21: The Indian Council of Medical Research revised its strategy to fight the spread of the new coronavirus on Saturday, saying all hospitalised patients with severe acute respiratory illness, shortness of breath and having fever and cough will now be tested for COVID-19 infection.
The new ICMR guidelines also said 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 apex body for biomedical research revised its strategy in view of a spurt in coronavirus cases in the country this week. The new strategy aims to contain the spread of infection more effectively and to provide reliable diagnosis to all individuals meeting the inclusion criteria of COVID-19 testing.
Till now, all asymptomatic individuals who undertook international travel in the last 14 days and developed symptoms, all symptomatic contacts of laboratory-confirmed cases and all symptomatic health care workers were being tested for the infection as per the guidelines.
The coronavirus cases rose to 258 on Saturday in India with fresh cases being reported from various parts of the country.
India has so far witnessed cases of COVID-19 mostly related to travel and local transmission from imported cases. Community transmission of the disease has not been documented till now.
Once community transmission is documented, the above testing strategy will undergo changes to evolve into stage-appropriate testing strategy, ICMR said.
Advisory for testing are being reviewed and updated periodically.
The testing strategy is reviewed by the National Task Force constituted by Secretary DHR & DG, ICMR and Chaired by VK Paul, a member of the NITI Aayog.