Maharashtra government issues fresh guidelines for Covid testing

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Published on Aug 24, 2020 01:41 AM IST
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ByFaisal Malik, Mumbai

The Maharashtra government on Friday has issued fresh protocol for Covid-19 testing in the state. It has directed to conduction of reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT -PCR) tests on foreign travelers arriving in the state, people having symptoms but with negative antigen test reports and high-risk contacts of Covid-19 patients. It has further directed medical facilities to conduct antigen tests on patients in need of immediate treatment and TrueNAT tests for those requiring emergency operations, pregnant women and persons brought dead to hospitals.

Following fresh guidelines issued by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and considering the rapid rise in cases, the state health department has formulated its new protocol for Covid testing.

“We have determined a new algorithm for conducting Covid-19 tests and have divided people into three groups. Now, antigen tests should be conducted on patients needing emergency treatment so that it can be started within half an hour,” says the order issued by Dr Pradeep Vyas, principal secretary, state health department on August 21.

Earlier, the state had allowed facilities to conduct antigen tests on patients with severe symptoms, comorbidities and pregnant women.

“RT-PCR tests should be conducted on all travellers coming from foreign countries; those having symptoms but their antigen test report is negative, and all close contacts and high-risk contacts of a Covid-19 positive patient,” the order states.

It has directed local authorities not to conduct tests on people travelling to villages if they do not show Covid symptoms.

The state government has further directed local authorities to conduct one test per patient, following ICMR guidelines, as it has come to light that some patients are being tested multiple times. “This not only puts strain on the existing infrastructure but also bring additional burden on the state exchequer,” the order states.

“TrueNAT tests should be conducted before emergency surgeries, for pregnant women and persons brought dead to hospitals. In case TrueNAT is not available, then the antigen test can be conducted on them,” it reads.

Patients admitted to mental hospitals should be quarantined for a week, following which antigen tests should be conducted. Based on the test report, the patient should be moved to an isolation ward or Covid ward. Similarly, new jail inmates should be quarantined for a week before getting tested. Based on the test report they should be moved to an isolation ward or Covid ward, it added.

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