ICMR issues new guidelines for COVID-19 testing

New Delhi: The Indian Council of Medical Research on January 10 issued a recommendation titled “Purposive Testing Strategy for COVID-19 in India,” setting out guidelines on who to test for Covid-19 amid rising cases may or may not be present in India.

Individuals who are symptomatic under community settings; Contacts at risk, ie the elderly and those with comorbidities such as diabetes, hypertension, chronic lung or kidney disease, malignancy, obesity, etc. of laboratory-confirmed cases; Individuals undertaking international travel and international travelers arriving at Indian airports/seaports/ports of entry are required to be tested for Covid-19.

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For those who are hospitalized, the ICMR has established some guidelines that can be followed after considering the advice of the treating doctor. It said:

  • No emergency procedure (including surgery and childbirth) should be delayed because of a lack of testing.
  • Patients should not be referred to other facilities in the absence of a testing facility. All arrangements should be made to collect and transfer specimens to testing facilities associated with the healthcare facility.
  • Asymptomatic patients undergoing surgical/nonsurgical invasive procedures, including pregnant women in or about to be in labor who are hospitalized for delivery, should not be tested unless justified or if symptoms develop
  • Enrolled patients may be tested no more than once per week.

However, the people who do not need to get tested are:

  • Asymptomatic individuals in community settings
  • Contacts of confirmed cases of COVID-19, unless identified as high risk based on age or comorbidities
  • Patients discharged in accordance with home isolation guidelines
  • Patients discharged from a COVID-19 facility under the revised discharge policy
  • Individuals undertaking interstate domestic travel

It was stated that testing could be performed either by rRT-PCR, TrueNat, CBNAAT, CRISPR, RT-LAMP, Rapid Molecular Test Systems, or by Rapid Antigen Test (RAT). However, it found that a home or self-test / rapid antigen test and a molecular test (which are rRT-PCR, TrueNat, CBNAAT, CRISPR, RT-LAMP, rapid molecular test systems, newer SARS-CoV-2 omicron or variant detection rRTPCR assays) could be confirmatory, which would require repeat testing. And symptomatic people who test negative must take the RTPCR test as outlined in the algorithm.

It has also ordered that all RTPCR and RAT tests be uploaded to the ICMR portal. It goes on to say that regardless of the method, the vaccination status of those being tested for Covid-19 should be entered into the Sample Referral Form (SRF) in the RTPCR app.

It states that “genome sequencing may only be performed in a subset of positive samples, as recommended by INSACOG,” on the grounds that the sequencing is being performed for surveillance purposes.

Citing the faster detection of newer variants, it states: “The newer SARS-CoV-2 omicron or variant-detection rRTPCR assays are recommended for use in areas with limited genomic surveillance capacity to rapidly detect the emergence of newer variants in such areas.” to recognize.”

The guidelines issued by the ICMR can be accessed here.

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