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Centre tweaks COVID testing guidelines to reduce burden on labs


The Union government has revised the COVID-19 testing rules to reduce the burden on laboratories and testing centres across the country that are struggling to manage the huge inflow of samples resulting in a delay in delivering test reports.

The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) in its latest advisory has said that no person should be subjected to an RT-PCR test for the second time. It means that people who have tested positive for COVID-19 through Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) or RT-PCR should not be tested again.

At present testing is being conducted in 2,506 labs in India and the decision is aimed at preventing them from being burdened as cases surge at a rapid rate.

The ICMR said, “At present, the laboratories are facing challenges to meet the expected testing target due to extraordinary caseload and staff getting infected with COVID-19. In view of this situation, it is imperative to optimise the RT-PCR testing and simultaneously increase the access and availability of testing to all citizens of the country.”

Also Read: Over 3.82 lakh COVID cases, 3,780 deaths in India in a day

The council has suggested RAT for mass detection. It said that RAT should be allowed in government and private healthcare facilities across the country in cities, towns, schools, colleges, and community centres. It has also suggested creating drive-through RAT facilities.

RT-PCR test not needed if…

As per the revised ICMR guidelines, an RT-PCR test is not required if:

  • If Rapid Antigen Test identified a patient as COVID positive
  • If RT-PCR test has identified a patient as positive once
  • If one has been in home isolation for 10 days with no fever in the last three days
  • At the time of getting discharged from the hospital
  • If a healthy individual has undertaken inter-state travel

Over 29.48 crore samples tested

So far, as per ICMR, over 29.48 crore samples for COVID-19 have been tested in the country. Of the total samples tested, 19.20 lakh samples were tested on April 29. Notably, it is the highest number of samples tested in a day. The second-highest number of over 18.04 lakh samples was tested on May 02. Over 15.41 lakh samples were tested on May 3.


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