The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has issued guidelines for a new testing strategy for effective tracking of Covid-19 cases.
The new policy, released late on Friday night, says asymptomatic direct and high-risk contacts of an infected person should be tested between the fifth day and 14th day of coming into contact with the patient.
It also says all patients hospitalized with severe acute respiratory illness (with symptoms of fever, cough, and shortness of breath), all symptomatic health care workers, all symptomatic contacts of those whose laboratory tests — even the preliminary ones at the state-level— have been positive for the Sars-Cov-2 (the virus that causes the Covid-19 disease) have to get tested.
All asymptomatic individuals or those not having symptoms of the disease, who have undertaken international travel in the past 14 days should stay in home quarantine for two weeks and should be tested when they are symptomatic (when they show symptoms), the new policy says. All family members living with an infected person should be home quarantined, it adds.
The testing strategy has been reviewed by the national task force constituted by ICMR.
There is no evidence of community transmission of the coronavirus infection in India as all samples collected randomly to check the spread of the Covid-19 disease have tested negative, ICMR director-general Balram Bhargava said on Thursday.
But a section of public health experts has been calling for scaling up the pool of those being tested to ensure that community transmission does not go undetected. So far, laboratories across India have tested 15,404 samples. Community transmission is when the source of an individual’s infection can’t be traced and isolated.
People who must be tested under India’s latest guidelines include:
1. Anyone who has traveled abroad in the past 14 days and has symptoms like fever, cough, or difficulty in breathing
2. Asymptomatic direct and high-risk contacts of an infected person should be tested between day 5 and day 14 of coming into contact with the infected person
3. Any health care worker looking after Covid-19 patients who develop symptoms or those who are exposed to a confirmed case
4. Any direct or high-risk contacts — those living in the same house and health care workers who come in contact without proper personal protective equipment – even if they do not have symptoms
5. All patients hospitalized with Severe Acute Respiratory Infections (SARI), which involves the history of a fever higher than 38 C° and cough for over 10 days