No test needed for emergency cases
The directive was a part of the revised Covid-19 testing guidelines that the research body released on Monday.Updated: May 19, 2020 03:24 IST
In a huge relief to patients needing emergency surgeries, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) directed that no emergency procedure (including deliveries) should be delayed for lack of testing—hospitals can simultaneously send samples for coronavirus disease (Covid-19) testing.
The directive was a part of the revised Covid-19 testing guidelines that the research body released on Monday.
“No emergency procedure (including deliveries) should be delayed for lack of test. However, sample can be sent for testing (of eligible patients) simultaneously…[sic],” read the ICMR advisory.
“It was reported that some hospitals had been admitting patients only after making them undergo Covid-19 tests; more so in cases of chemo, dialysis or even surgeries. This was much-required clarity from ICMR,” said a senior public health expert, requesting not to be identified.
However, all hospitalised patients, who develop influenza-like illness (ILI) symptoms should be tested for the disease. According to the guidelines, cases of ILI are defined as those with “acute respiratory infection with fever ≥ 38◦C and cough”.
In its fifth revised guidelines on Covid-19 testing, ICMR allowed testing to be expanded to include frontline workers involved in the containment and mitigation of the disease, apart from the health care workers who were already included in its previous guidelines.
“This category is equally vulnerable as they are directly in contact with suspected or confirmed cases as part of door-to-door surveys, screening, etc. You don’t want them to be moving around as carriers of the disease,” the senior public health expert said.
Covid-19 testing is now also allowed for all symptomatic ILI cases who have returned from abroad as well as for migrants within seven days of display of symptoms, according to the ICMR.
Testing among asymptomatic cases is allowed only if a person is a direct and high-risk contact of a laboratory-confirmed Covid-19 case. “…to be tested once between day 5 and day 10 of coming into contact,” said the revised guidelines. This is a shift from the earlier guidelines which stated an asymptomatic case can be tested only between day 5 and 14.
India has scaled up its Covid-19 testing capacity to one lakh samples a day. To date, 2,30,2792 samples have been tested, with 90,094 samples tested in the past 24 hours in about 373 government laboratories and 152 private laboratories approved by ICMR.
“The more you test, the more you will be able to track and treat. It helps to know the numbers to formulate containment strategies accordingly,” said Dr T Jacob John, senior virologist, former head, virology department, Christian Medical College, Vellore.
As of now, there are 916 dedicated Covid hospitals with 1,80,473 beds (isolation beds- 1,61,169 and ICU beds- 19,304) and 2,044 dedicated Covid Health Centres with 1,28,304 beds (isolation beds- 1,17,775 and ICU beds-10,529) along with 9,536 quarantine centres and 6,309 Covid Care Centres with 5,64,632 beds now available to combat Covid-19 in the country.