In the wake of spurt in positive COVID-19 cases and an increase in the virus hotspots in the country, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has decided to deploy rapid antibody testing kits for the symptomatic people in such hotspots. The COVID-19 rapid testing kit will allow the individual to test the virus at their homes using blood samples and will give the results within 10-15 minutes. The result will tell if the individual was ever exposed to Coronavirus.
As per media reports, the medical research body has approved 12 rapid testing kits so far from China, the US, and Singapore, which will be made available in the pharma market soon. India has reportedly procured approximately 5 lakh testing kits as of now. The ICMR has outlined a design to undertake the tests in all areas which have reported a cluster of COVID-19 positive cases.
Individuals showing any mild symptoms of the virus including cold, cough, fever, would first have to be tested by the kits using blood samples. The antibody-positive tests would then be confirmed by RT-PCR (polymerase chain reaction) using nasal/throat swab. If the patients show positive results, they will have to be admitted to the hospital in isolation wards for further treatment. In any case, the tests show negative results, the people with mild symptoms would be advised to be under home quarantine for 10-15 days. An antibody test will be repeated after the quarantine period.
Until now, the RT-PCR tests are being used to identify the virus, the results of which would take at least five hours to come. The antibody rapid testing kits would significantly help in pacing up the screening of the infected people in India. These kits would be helpful in testing the patients, especially in rural districts.
As per the guidelines issued by the ICMR, data of the test results will have to be uploaded on the ICMR portal in real-time. Currently, there are about 20 existing and 22 potential hotspots spread across the country and the state governments are keeping a close track on these hotspots.
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