INDIA to ramp up COVID-19 testing, focus on RATs

The Indian Government aims to ramp up India's daily testing capacity for COVID-19 by June. -PTI
The Indian Government aims to ramp up India’s daily testing capacity for COVID-19 by June. -PTI

INIDIA: The Indian Government on Thursday said that it aims to ramp up India’s daily testing capacity for COVID-19 and has taken a number of steps in this regard. At a media briefing, the Director General of ICMR Dr. Balram Bhargava said that the government plans to push up the number of COVID-19 tests being conducted in India daily from the current 1.6 million-2 million to 4.5 million by end of June.

The Centre is also focussing on increasing the Rapid Antigen Tests (RATs) instead of ‘Gold Standard’ RT-PCR. Out of the target of 4.5 million tests, 1.8 million will be RT-PCR, while 2.7 million will be RATs, according to the Government.

Dr. Bhargava said that ICMR has so far approved a home-based RAT kit manufactured by Mylab Discovery Solutions Ltd, Pune. He added that kits by three more companies are in pipeline and likely to get the approval within a week.

Bhargava said kits for home testing will be available in market in 3-4 days.

The ICMR chief said that in large cities, focus was mainly on RT-PCR which is the standard test but in district level the backbone of testing has been TrueNAT and CBNAAT, while in rural areas RAT is the backbone of testing.

“In the second wave, we have to increase the RAT testing, we have written to all chief secretaries and they have acted upon it. Multiple 24X7 RAT booths to be set up in cities, towns and villages. RATs to be allowed at all government and private healthcare facilities (no accreditation required). RAT booths to be set up with the community in schools, colleges, community centres, RWA offices etc. All RT-PCR and RAT test results should be uploaded on ICMR portal,” said Dr. Bhargava. Bhargava said there are 2,553 Government and Private COVID testing laboratories established across the country over the last 16 months.

Meanwhile, more than 2.55 million tests were conducted in a span of 24 hours (on Thursday), the highest ever conducted in a single day in India.


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