With the Union Health Ministry enabling private medical practitioners to prescribe a Covid-19 test, the total number of samples tested in India will soon touch one crore, the ministry declared in a statement on July 2.
“As on date, 90,56,173 tests have been conducted through a diagnostic testing network which is fast expanding. There are now 1065 testing labs in the country comprising 768 in the public sector and 297 private labs. The per-day testing capacity is also fast-growing,” said the statement.
Incidentally, as many as 2,29,588 people were tested for Covid-19 on July 1.
The ministry’s release credited this development to its earlier decision to remove all bottlenecks to pave the way for enhanced testing. In the wake of a significant announcement by the Centre, Covid-19 testing can now be done on the basis of a prescription by any registered practitioner and not just a government doctor.
States and union territories have also been advised by the Government of India to take immediate steps to enable all qualified medical practitioners, including private practitioners, to prescribe Covid-19 tests to any individual who fits the criteria for testing as per ICMR’s guidelines.
Reiterating that ‘Test-Track-Treat’ is the key strategy for early detection and containment of the outbreak, the Centre has urged states and UTs to take all possible steps to ensure full capacity utilisation of all Covid-19 testing laboratories. This shall ensure full capacity utilisation of all labs, especially the private ones, to benefit the people. Through a far-reaching move, ICMR has strongly recommended that laboratories should be free to test any individual in accordance with the ICMR Guidelines and state authorities must not restrict an individual from getting tested since early testing is key to containing the outbreak and saving lives.
States and UTs have also been asked to ramp up testing with the use of Rapid Antigen tests in addition to RT-PCR, which is the gold standard for diagnosis of Covid-19. The Rapid Antigen test is quick, simple, safe and can be used in containment zones as well as hospitals.
At present, ICMR is validating more such kits to increase testing options available to citizens. The Centre has also urged States/UTs to facilitate testing by organising testing camps using mobile vans, etc. This shall effectively take Covid-19 tests to citizens’ doorsteps in high incidence areas where samples of all symptomatic individuals and their contacts can be tested with Rapid Antigen tests.
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