India: The total number of people being tested for COVID-19 in the country will soon touch one crore. This has been possible due to the removal of all bottlenecks by the efforts taken by the Government of India.
Various steps taken by the Central Government have paved the way for enhanced testing for COVID-19. 90,56,173 tests have been conducted through a diagnostic testing network which is fast expanding. There are now 1,065 testing labs in the country comprising 768 in the public sector and 297 private labs. The per day testing capacity is also growing fast.
On Thursday, as many as 2,29,588 people got tested for COVID-19. Through a significant step announced by the Central Government, COVID-19 testing can now be done on the prescription of any registered practitioner, and not exclusively a Government doctor. The Centre has strongly advised States/UTs to take immediate steps to facilitate testing at the earliest, by enabling all qualified medical practitioners, including private practitioners, to prescribe COVID-19 tests to any individual fulfilling the criteria for testing, as per ICMR guidelines.
Reiterating that 'Test-Track-Treat' is the key strategy for early detection and containment of the outbreak, the Centre has advised States and the Union Territories to take all possible steps to ensure full capacity utilization of all COVID-19 testing laboratories in the State/UT. This shall ensure full capacity utilization of all labs, especially the private ones, this will hugely benefit the people.
Through a far-reaching move, ICMR has strongly recommended that laboratories should be free to test any individual in accordance with the ICMR Guidelines. State authorities must not restrict an individual from getting tested, as early testing will help in containing the virus and saving lives. The Government of India has urged States to ramp up testing in a big way by using Rapid Antigen Point-of-Care tests in addition to RT-PCR, which is the gold standard for diagnosis of the novel coronavirus.
The Rapid Antigen test is quick, simple, safe and can be used in containment zones as well as hospitals, as per the criteria specified by ICMR for testing. ICMR is validating such kits to increase the available options to the citizens.
The Centre has also asked all its states and union territories to facilitate testing in a big way by organizing testing camps, using mobile vans etc. This shall effectively take COVID-19 tests to the people's doorsteps in high incidence areas, to collect samples of all symptomatic individuals as well as their contacts, and then get those samples tested by using rapid antigen tests.