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Sample Testing Criteria For Covid-19 May Be Revised: Health Min

03 April 2020


New Delhi: The Union Health Ministry on Friday said that there was a possibility of revising sample criteria for testing Covid-19, if the need arose.

At a press conference here, Joint Secretary, Health and Family Welfare, Lav Agarwal said: "We are taking samples in hotspot zones and in the areas where we are getting more cases. In addition to it, we are testing cases of Severe Acute Respiratory Illness (SARI) and Influenza-like illness (ILI).There is a possibility of revising sample criteria if the need arises, but no such decision has been taken so far."

Asked by the media, if the ministry had categorised testing into red or white zones, he said: "There is a particular process and guidelines. There is no point in testing only for confidence building and that too at a time when testing kits are always going to be limited. It might not be the right strategy."

Dr Manoj Muhekar, of the Indian Council of Medical Research, who was also present at the press conference, said that at least 8,000 tests were conducted on Thursday, which was the highest number that ICMR has tested in a single day.

"Currently there are 182 labs in the country which are providing diagnosis for Covid-19. This includes 130 labs in the government sector and 52 labs in the private sector. Cumulatively, around 66,000 samples have been tested so far. At least 8,000 samples were tested yesterday (Thursday) which is, so far, the highest number of samples tested for Covid-19 in one day in the country by ICMR," he said.

Dr. Muhekar also said the ICMR is likely to release guidelines on Saturday on a rapid diagnostic test for coronavirus disease.

"Yesterday, we had a meeting to discuss and finalise the guidelines for using rapid diagnostic tests. I hope by tomorrow, we will be able to release this. Its primary purpose will be how to deploy this test in high-risk and low-risk areas and hotspot and 'not' hotspot areas," he said.