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UP directs for increasing share of RT-PCR tests

PUBLISHED ON NOV 25, 2020 11:15 PM IST

Ghaziabad: The Uttar Pradesh government on Wednesday directed districts to ensure Reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) Covid-19 tests, considered to be the most accurate, is 40% of all tests.

UP’s additional chief secretary (health) Amit Mohan Prasad said that the total tests conducted in the state on Tuesday was a record 178,549 and that included 72,808 -- or 40% of all tests -- RT-PCR tests. A majority of the rest of the tests were rapid antigen tests that is less accurate but much faster.

“The chief minister has directed that the ratio of RT-PCR and rapid antigen testing will be 40:60. Earlier the targets was 33% RT-PCR tests,” Prasad, said.

The state government on November 12 had revised the antigen test targets for the both Ghaziabad and Gautam Budh Nagar from 2,000 per day to 3500 per day besides the regular RT-PCR tests.

Ghaziabad officials said that they were are meeting the 3,500 target given by the state government and also conducting about 1500-2000 RT-PCR tests per day.

“Since the RT-PCR test is confirmatory, we will increase the RT-PCR testing in the district. We can contract more of lab technicians for the purpose and will be able to add about 10 more teams to our present resources,” said Ajay Shankar Pandey, Ghaziabad district magistrate.

Ghaziabad had conducted a total of 526,533 tests till November 24 of which 58.8% were rapid antigen tests.

“RT-PCR tests and can even detect low viral load and is preferred as a confirmatory test. We are now conducting around 1500-2000 RT-PCR tests a day at 30 locations and will be able to deploy more teams once we get more lab technicians to conduct RT-PCR tests,” said Dr. NK Gupta, chief medical officer.

“The specificity (ability to identify healthy individuals) of both rapid antigen kits and RT-PCR is almost similar but the sensitivity (ability of test to detect disease in individual) of RT-PCR is more at about 80% as compared to 70-75% sensitivity of rapid antigen kits. So, RT-PCR becomes a preferred choice rather than testing a patient first with rapid antigen kit and then following a negative result with RT-PCR test. In my opinion, the RT-PCR should be conducted for all ILI and SARI patients,” said Dr Ashish Agrawal, president of Indian Medical Association – Ghaziabad.

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