ICMR issues new Covid-19 guidelines on who needs to get tested, who doesn’t

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Amid rising cases of Covid-19 and its contagious Variant Omicron, the Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) has released new guidelines on who should get tested for the infection and who not.

According to the government’s top medical body, asymptomatic people and contacts of Covid patients do not need to be tested unless identified as “high risk person” based on their age or co-morbidities. The guidelines – The ICMR opinion on the reasoned testing strategy for Covid-19 – dated January 10, 2022 also mentioned that the risky contacts of patients would be those over 60 years of age and people with co-morbidities like diabetes, hypertension, chronic lungs. or kidney disease, malignancy and obesity.

He also said that people undertaking “interstate domestic travel” did not need to be tested.

Here are the detailed guidelines

People who need to be tested:

In community settings:

* Symptomatic individuals (cough, fever, sore throat, loss of taste and / or smell, shortness of breath and / or other respiratory symptoms).

* At-risk contacts of laboratory-confirmed cases. (The contacts at risk are the elderly (over 60 years) and people with co-morbidities such as diabetes, hypertension, chronic lung or kidney disease, malignant tumors, obesity, etc.)

* Individuals undertaking international trips (depending on country specific requirements).

*International travelers arriving at Indian airports / seaports / ports of entry in accordance with established guidelines.

In a hospital environment:

Testing may be performed at the discretion of the attending physician taking into account the following considerations:

* No emergency procedure (including surgeries and childbirth) should be delayed for lack of testing.

* Patients should not be referred to other facilities for lack of a testing center. All arrangements should be made to collect and transfer samples to testing facilities, mapped to the health facility.

* Asymptomatic patients undergoing invasive surgical / non-surgical procedures, including pregnant women in labor or near labor who are hospitalized for childbirth, should not be tested unless warranted or symptoms develop .

People who do not need to be tested:

* Asymptomatic individuals in community settings.

* Contacts of confirmed cases of Covid-19 unless they are identified as high risk based on age or comorbidities.

* Patients having obtained their discharge according to home isolation guidelines.

* Patients discharging from a Covid-19 facility in accordance with the revised discharge policy.

Domestic interstate travelers do not need to be tested, according to the ICMR. (Photo: Getty Images / Thinkstock)

* Individuals making interstate domestic journeys

Test modes

The ICMR also said that the tests can be performed either by RT-PCR, True Nat, CBNAAT, CRISPR, RT-LAMP, Rapid Molecular Testing Systems, or by Rapid antigen test (RAT). The home test or self-test / RAT and molecular test should be considered confirmatory, without any repeat testing. Symptomatic people, whose home test / self-test or RAT is negative, should perform an RT-PCR test, according to the new ICMR guidelines.

The ICMR opinion also suggested that the guidelines be for:

*Early detection of symptomatic cases for rapid isolation and care.
* Early detection of infections in the elderly (over 60 years old) and people with comorbidities (diabetes, hypertension, chronic pulmonary or kidney disease, malignancy, obesity, etc.) for rapid management.

Dr Shuchin Bajaj, founding director of the Ujala Cygnus group of hospitals, called it a “good step” to avoid testing asymptomatic contacts of safe patients. “We have long insisted that there is no need to unnecessarily test asymptomatic contacts or travelers. This infection is now spreading very quickly. Unnecessary tests puts a lot of pressure on laboratories. Thus, people who really need the test – who are symptomatic or at high risk – are deprived of intercourse for many hours, and sometimes days. This will free up testing capabilities for people who really need it, ”Dr Bajaj told indianexpress.com.

The ICMR opinion on the targeted testing strategy for Covid-19 said the guidelines can be adjusted to meet individual state requirements, and testing can be performed at the discretion of the attending physician with certain considerations.

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