Ramp up COVID testing in strategic manner, Centre tells states
While Delta remains the dominant SARS-CoV-2 variant worldwide, Omicron may prove to be more transmissible, suggest existing data. (Representational image)

Ramp up COVID testing in strategic manner, Centre tells states

The government said on Tuesday that the number of coronavirus tests in the country had fallen and needed to be ramped up. 

The advisory came a week after the Centre said contacts of COVID-19 patients, unless identified as high-risk, don’t need to be tested.

In a letter on Tuesday, additional secretary in the health ministry, Arti Ahuja, asked states and Union Territories to increase testing in a strategic manner keeping in view case positivity rates in various areas.

She said Omicron, which has been designated by the World Health Organization as a variant of concern, is currently spreading across the country. “However, it is seen from the data available on the ICMR portal that testing has declined in many states and union territories,” she wrote.

Ahuja said in all advisories on testing issued by the Indian Council of Medical Research, including the latest on January 10, the basic objective remains early detection of cases for quick isolation and care.

Also read: Don’t prescribe steroids for mild cases: Centre in new COVID advisory

In addition, testing remains a key strategy for pandemic management as it helps in identification of new clusters and hotspots, which can in turn facilitate immediate action for containment such as setting up of containment zones, contact tracing, quarantining, isolation and follow-up.

“Progression of disease to a severe category can be averted by strategic testing of those who are at high risk and more vulnerable, as well as in areas where the spread is likely to be higher,” Ahuja said.

All those who are symptomatic must be tested and all at-risk contacts of laboratory confirmed cases must also be tested, she said.

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