Himachal to introduce rapid antigen tests to ramp up Covid-19 diagnosis

A detailed circular containing the indications and guidelines for the use of antigen-based tests was issued here on Friday.
A man giving his sample for Covid-19 testing in Himachal Pradesh.(HT File)
A man giving his sample for Covid-19 testing in Himachal Pradesh.(HT File)
Updated on Aug 28, 2020 08:51 PM IST
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Hindustan Times, Shimla | By, Shimla

To increase coronavirus testing capacity in the state, the Himachal government has decided to introduce rapid antigen and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISA) tests, as per the recommendations of Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).

The government will soon provide these testing kits to various public health facilities, said additional chief secretary (health) RD Dhiman.

A detailed circular containing the indications and guidelines for the use of antigen-based tests was issued here on Friday.

As per the guidelines, the tests will be conducted on asymptomatic cases in the containment zones or hotspots and institutional quarantine facilities where inter-state travellers from high-load cities have completed 6-7 days of isolation or asymptomatic patients who are hospitalised or seeking hospitalisation.

The rapid antigen tests will also be done in case of patients undergoing chemotherapy, diagnosed with malignant disease, organ recipients or immunosuppressed patients like those having HIV. Besides them, elderly patients above 65 years of age with co-morbidities, asymptomatic patients undergoing aerosol generating, emergency surgical procedures and non-surgical interventions, will be examined.

The patients whose antigen test comes out negative but are symptomatic, their samples shall be sent for RT-PCR tests.

“IgG ELISA tests can also give an insight into the presence of antibodies among frontline workers and the results can be used as a guide for deployment of such personnel in various healthcare institutions of the state,” said Dhiman.

Among the low-risk population, the IgG ELISA tests shall be done on outpatient attendees (non-ILI patients) and pregnant women.

The sample size for high-risk population in each district should be 100 per week and 400 per month. For low-risk, it should be 50 per week and 200 per month each for outpatient attendees and pregnant women. The collective sample size should be 200 per week and 800 per month.

High-risk population includes healthcare workers, immunocompromised patients, individuals in containment zones; security, police and paramilitary personnel; civil defence, press corps, rural, tribal population; industrial workers, farmers, vendors, staff in municipal bodies, drivers, bankers, postal and courier personnel; telecom offices, shops, congregate settings and prisons.

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