Rapid tests will help in containment planning

This test is a first generation, meaning it is a new beginning

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NEW DELHI: The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has said the rapid antibody-based blood tests for Covid-19 will help detect the growth rate of cases in hotspot areas which can be used by the government to devise a containment strategy. Besides, the test is also useful in ensuring whether a healthcare worker has developed immunity to the virus after he or she has acquired it once.

The results come with a delay in antibody tests. However, such tests that help detect whether a person has been infected with coronavirus can help the government assess how many people have been exposed to the disease in hotspots and assess how successful the containment measures have been, ICMR head of epidemiology and communicable diseases Dr RR Gangakhedkar said.

This test is a first generation, meaning it is a new beginning. With time, this test will also be as successful as other such tests used for other similar diseases,” Dr Gangakhedkar said. ICMR approved the rapid antibody test last week in a bid to see whether the coronavirus is getting transmitted in hotspot areas. As per ICMR protocol, the test can be conducted in clusters (containment zone), in large migration gatherings and evacuees’ centres with large number of Covid-19 cases.

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However, Dr Gangakhedkar said the testing kits for these rapid diagnostic tests are yet to arrive. “The supplier has assured that they will be sent in 2-3 days,” he said. The tests form a key part of the government’s containment strategy while efforts are on to expand the size of samples to assess whether there is any community transmission. Till Saturday, 1,71,718 samples were tested by public and private labs through RT-PCR. On Friday, 16,564 tests were conducted through a network of government and private labs.

The health ministry said the government is also ramping up healthcare facilities for treatment of Covid-19 patients. While 587 dedicated Covid-19 hospitals have been earmarked by the Centre and state governments, over one lakh isolation beds and 11,500 ICU beds have also been reserved for coronavirus patients across the country.

“PPEs, ventilators and other critical medical supplies are being ensured by the centre to states. The containment action plan, contact tracing and other planning are being ensured,” health ministry joint secretary Lav Agarwal said.