Centre urges states, UTs to retest all symptomatic negative cases of RAT through RT-PCR

The Union Health Ministry and ICMR have, hence, jointly written to all states and UTs and urged them to ensure that all symptomatic negative cases of RAT are mandatorily retested using the RT-PCR test.

Observing that in some large states, symptomatic negative cases tested by Rapid Antigen Tests (RAT) are not being followed up by RT-PCT testing, the Union Health Ministry and the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) have urged all states and Union territories to ensure that the all symptomatic negative cases of RAT are mandatorily retested using the RT-PCR test.

The guidelines provided by the ICMR and the Union Health Ministry clearly state that two specific categories of persons must be retested through RT-PCR tests: 1) All symptomatic (fever or cough or breathlessness) negative cases of Rapid Antigen Tests (RAT). 2) Asymptomatic negative cases of RAT that develop symptoms within two to three days of being tested negative.

The Union Health Ministry and ICMR have, hence, jointly written to all states and UTs and urged them to ensure that all symptomatic negative cases of RAT are mandatorily retested using the RT-PCR test. This is necessary to ensure that such symptomatic negative cases do not remain untested and do not spread the disease among their contacts. This will also ensure early detection and isolation and hospitalization of such false negatives.

The joint letter also stated that while the RAT is being used to increase access and availability of testing in the field, RT-PCR remains the gold standard of COVID tests, the Union Health and Family Welfare Ministry stated in a release.

The Union Health Ministry has also urged the states and UTs to urgently establish a monitoring mechanism in every district (a designated officer or a team) and at the state level to follow up such cases. These teams shall analyze details of RAT conducted on a daily basis in the districts and state and ensure that there are no delays in retesting of all symptomatic negative cases.

The ministry stated that the aim of states and UTs should be to ensure that no potentially positive case is missed out. They have also been advised to undertake an analysis on a regular basis to monitor the incidence of positives during the RT-PCR tests conducted as a follow up, the ministry added.

 

First Published:Sept. 10, 2020, 4:37 p.m.