Few states not utilising optimal capacity of RT-PCR tests to diagnose COVID-19: Health Ministry

New Delhi, September 3: Union Health Ministry on Thursday said there are states where RT-PCR testing capacity for COVID-19 is not being utilised to its optimal capacity. Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said that ICMR’s guidelines clearly lay down that rapid- antigen tests are ideal screening tests for densely populated areas for containment zones and…

New Delhi [India], September 3 (ANI): Union Health Ministry on Thursday said there are states where RT-PCR testing capacity for COVID-19 is not being utilised to its optimal capacity.

Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said that ICMR’s guidelines clearly lay down that rapid- antigen tests are ideal screening tests for densely populated areas for containment zones and buffer zones.

“I do admit that there are states where the optimal capacity of RT-PCR off late is not being utilized and the Health Ministry has drawn the attention of those states to the fact they have installed capacity of conducting X number of RT-PCR tests and they are doing less,” he said.

He also said that any analysis of COVID-19 testing should to done keeping the availability of tests in mind.

“It depends on which are the months we are using to compare. The choice of months tends to colour the narrative. There was a particular period in the country when no rapid antigen tests were available. So if we are using testing data of March and comparing it with testing data of August then obviously, we will find a huge difference. The RT-PCR tests were available in March and April, and rapid antigen tests were not available in those months. So that is one thing and we must guard ourselves while analyzing these issues,” he said.

The official said the second important thing is that there is no uniform picture across the country.

“For example -more than 90 per cent tests are RT-PCR done in Tamil Nadu even today. There are other states where RT-PCR, TrueNat and CBNAAT based testing capacities are limited. So, in those states if we have containment zones or a buffer zone, as a public health manager we cannot get satisfied with limited testing,” Bhushan said.

Over 11.7 lakh (11,72,179) tests were done in the last 24 hours while India has conducted more than 4.5 crores (4,55,09,380) so far to diagnose coronavirus. From conducting merely 10 tests per day on January 30, the daily average has crossed more than 11 lakh till date.

According to Health Ministry, the surge in testing has been made possible by an equally speedy expansion in the testing lab network across the country.

Asked about sero-survey results ICMR chief Dr Balram Bhargava said the first sero-survey was done in April or May and second sero-survey has started in the whole country. (ANI)

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