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New Delhi, September 10, 2020
The Union Health Ministry today urged States and Union Territories (UTs) to mandatorily retest all symptomatic negative cases of Rapid Antigen Tests through RT-PCR (Reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction) test.
The Ministry issued the directive after noting that, in some of the large States, symptomatic negative cases tested by Rapid Antigen Tests (RAT) were not being followed up by RT-PCT testing.
The guidelines of ICMR, as well as the Health Ministry, clearly state that the following two specific categories of persons must necessarily be retested through RT-PCR tests:
--All symptomatic (fever or cough or breathlessness) negative cases of Rapid Antigen Tests (RAT)
--Asymptomatic negative cases of RAT that develop symptoms within 2 to 3 days of being tested negative.
In this background, the Union Health Ministry and ICMR have jointly written to all the States and UTs and urged them to ensure that the all symptomatic negative cases of RAT were mandatorily retested using the RT-PCR test. This was 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 or hospitalization of such false negatives. It has also been reiterated in the joint letter that while the RAT was being used to increase access and availability of testing in the field, RT-PCR remains the gold standard of COVID tests.
The 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 will analyse details of RAT conducted daily in the Districts and State and ensure that there were no delays in retesting of all symptomatic negative cases.
The aim of States/UTs should be to ensure that no potentially positive case was missed out. They have also been advised to undertake an analysis regularly to monitor the incidence of positives during the RT-PCR tests conducted as a follow-up, an official press release added.