Explore public-private partnership models to augment Covid testing, states urged

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The Centre on Friday asked states/UTs to explore appropriate public-private partnership models to augment testing in an expeditious way amid the Covid surge across the country.

“Appropriate public-private partnership models may also be explored to establish innovative and convenient testing centres to augment testing in an expeditious way. RATs (rapid antigen tests) must be conducted in accordance with the RAT algorithm defined by the ICMR,” the joint letter from the Health Ministry and the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) said.

Appropriate measures must be taken to ensure adherence to physical distancing norms at all testing centres to minimise possibility of transmission there, it said.

The states have been asked to institute emergency procurement procedures to facilitate unhindered supply of diagnostic commodities amid surge in the Covid cases. Citing the delay in RTPCR-based testing in confirming diagnosis due to its turnaround time of about 5-8 hours, the Health Ministry has asked states to increase use of rapid antigen tests in such specific situations where RTPCR testing poses challenges.

The Health Ministry has said to consider any individual presenting with fever with or without cough, headache, sore throat, breathlessness, bodyache, recent loss of taste or smell, fatigue and diarrhoea as suspect Covid-19 case unless proven otherwise by confirmation of another etiology.

While awaiting test results, people should be advised to immediately isolate themselves and follow the home isolation guidelines of the Health Ministry, it added.

The states have been told to set up multiple RAT booths in identified geographies and operationalised on a 24X7 basis to offer widespread testing and easier access to all citizens. RATS may be allowed at government and private health care facilities includlng all hospitals, dispensaries, nursing homes, clinics, district hospitals, primary health centres etc.

No accreditation is required for undertaking rapid antigen testing by any healthcare facility, the states were told.

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