The Punjab Government on Friday issued the new advisory for COVID-19 Testing during 2nd wave of Pandemic.Giving details here, the Health Minister Balbir Singh Sidhu said that Indian Council of Medical Research, Department of Health Research, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India has issued new the guidelines wherein measures to optimize the RT-PCR testing and simultaneously improve access and availability of testing has been communicated.Mr. Sidhu said that at present the laboratories are facing challenges to meet the expected testing target due to extraordinary case load and staff getting infected with COVID-19. In view of this situation, it is imperative to optimize the RTPCR testing and simultaneously increase the access and availability of testing to all citizens.Recommending the measures to optimize RTPCR testing, he said that now, RTPCR test must not be repeated in any individual who has tested positive once either by RAT or RTPCR. Similarly, no testing is required for COVID-19 recovered individuals at the time of hospital discharge in accordance with the discharge policy of MOH & FW.
Mr. Sidhu said that measures to improve access and availability of testing: Rapid antigen tests (RATS) were recommended in India for COVID-19 testing in June 2020. However, the use of these tests is currently limited to containment zones and health care settings. RAT has a short turnaround time of 15-30 minutes and thus offers a huge advantage of quick detection of cases and opportunity to isolate and treat them early for curbing transmission. The Health Minister said that RAT testing must be conducted in compliance with the ICMR advisory available and symptomatic individuals identified positive by RAT should not be re-tested and advised to go through home-based care as per ICMR guidelines. He said that symptomatic individuals identified negative by RAT should be linked with RTPCR test facility and in the meantime be urged to follow home isolation and treatment.He said that RAT test results should be uploaded on ICMR portal by all Govt. and Private labs. The vaccination status of all individuals tested for COVID-19 must be entered into the Sample Referral Form (SRF) in the RTPCR app both for individuals tested by RTPCR and RAT.