RT-PCR not needed for inter-state travel, says ICMR

The advisory will make interstate travel easier for essential travelers. However, it calls for discouraging non-essential inter-state travel

Migrants being tested for COVID before beginning their inter-state journey. PTI File Photo

Fresh guidelines issued by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) have suggested the removal of mandatory RT-PCR tests “for healthy people travelling across the country”.

“The need of RT-PCR test for healthy individuals undertaking inter-state domestic travel may be completely removed,” said ICMR in the May 5 advisory. All asymptomatic domestic travellers must follow Covid-19 appropriate behaviour, it added.

The advisory will make inter-state travel easier for essential travellers. However, a few states still insist on e-passes where lockdown restrictions are imposed. The body also discouraged non-essential inter-state travel, especially of individuals who are showing COVID or flu-like symptoms.

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The advisory also stated that the RT-PCR test should not be repeated on an individual who tested positive once either by RAT (Rapid Antigen Test) or RT-PCR. Hospitals are inundated with COVID patients and that load has strained the system.

The sudden spike in cases has led to a shortage of beds, ventilators and oxygen cylinders. There is a waiting period of seven days if a person is trying to get the COVID test done at ones’ home.

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Moreover, no testing is required for COVID-19-recovered individuals at the time of hospital discharge, in accordance with the discharge policy of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. India now has a total of 2,506 molecular testing labs, including RT-PCR, TrueNAT, CBNAAT and other platforms. The national testing capacity stands at 15 lakh tests in a three-shift operation.

The top health research body also recommended ramping up the testing using RAT and said that it may be allowed at all available government and private healthcare facilities. The body also recommended setting up booths in cities, towns, and villages for testing.

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