Rapid Antigen Tests (RAT) can now be availed at all government and private health facilities. The Union Health Ministry said this will accelerate testing amid the second wave of COVID-19 pandemic in India.
Dr Balram Bhargava, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) DG, told a press briefing that there was no accreditation required. “Home-based testing solutions are being explored.” The government said that RAT booths to be set up with the community in schools, colleges, community centers, RWA offices etc.
Public-private partnership models encouraged to establish innovative and convenient testing centres. The government said RATs must be conducted in accordance with the RAT altgorithm defined by ICMR. “All RTPCR and RAT test results should be uploaded on ICMR portal,” the health ministry said. “Social distancing norms to be ensured at all RAT and RTPCR testing centres.”
The government also said that RT-PCR testing capacity is around 16 lakh per day, RAT capacity is 17 lakh per day. APR total tests per day is around 16-20 lakhs (RT-PCR plus RAT). Dr Bhargava pointed out that India’s national COVID-19 positivity rate is around 21%. He said that on April 30th, 19,45,299 tests were conducted, the highest ever in the world.
The health ministry told reporters that Goa, Puducherry, West Bengal, Haryana, Karnataka have the highest case positivity currently. However, Maharashtra, Delhi, Chhattisgarh are among 18 states showing continued plateauing or decrease in daily new COVID-19 cases. Bengaluru urban, Chennai, Ernakulam, Malappuram among other cities are showing a continued increase in cases.
It highlighted that more than one lakh active cases in 13 states, 50,000 to one lakh active cases in 6 states and less than 50,000 active cases in 17 states. Moreover, during a meeting today, the health ministry directed states to ensure all beneficiaries who have taken the first dose are prioritized for the second doses. “The urgent need to address the large number of beneficiaries waiting for second dose was stressed,” a statement said.
States can reverse at least 70% of the vaccines supplied to them from Government of India channel (free of cost) for second dose vaccination and remaining 30% for first dose. Furthermore, states have the liberty to enhance this to as much as 100%.