New Delhi, July 1 (IANS) In what can be good news for citizens, Union Health Secretary Preeti Sudan and ICMR Director General Dr Balram Bhargava have told the states to ensure full utilisation of all Covid-19 testing laboratories. They also said that even qualified private doctors should be allowed to recommend a Covid test, given the criteria are met.

This joint letter comes in the wake of finding out that many labs are “grossly sub-optimal”.

“It has been observed that in some States/UTs, the capacity utilisation of the testing labs, particularly the ones in the private sector, is grossly sub-optimal. It is strongly advised that you should take all possible steps to ensure full capacity utilisation of all Covid-19 testing laboratories in the State/UT.”

They have also voiced concern at some states and Union Territories making it mandatory for a need for a prescription from a government doctor to get tested for Covid-19. This, they insisted, puts additional pressure on the already stretched government health facilities.

“At this juncture, it is absolutely necessary to facilitate testing at the earliest by enabling all qualified medical practitioners including private practitioners to prescribe Covid test to any individual fulfilling the criteria for testing as per ICMR guidelines,” they advised.

Citing the perceived inhibition of some states to test more, the letter asserted labs should test freely in accordance with the ICMR guidelines as early test is a great way to curb the curve.

With Unlock 2 kicking in from Wednesday, they cautioned: “While morbidity and mortality have been relatively low in most parts of the country, as compared to many other countries in the world, the virus has been spreading to newer areas.”

‘Test-track-treat’ is the mantra the two have given to states and UTs, adding that ramping up testing and removing obstacles for it should be given primacy. They stated, the individuals who tested positive should be treated according to the well laid-down protocol while the negative ones should be taken for RT-PCR tests.

The two have also advised to make it mandatory for all labs to upload the testing data on the ICMR’s database as well as report to authorities for the purpose of surveillance and contact tracing.

“It has been observed that in some states, delineation of containment zones and contact tracing has not been undertaken with the rigour and meticulousness that is required. You may like to review this aspect at the earliest and take necessary corrective measures,” they added.

–IANS

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