State revises testing strategy

The State has issued orders revising its COVID-19 testing strategy, in consideration of the changed epidemiology of the disease in the State.

Accordingly, all asymptomatic, vulnerable persons in community clusters – elderly, pregnant women, those with co-morbidities – will be individually tested using RT-PCR for COVID-19.

All asymptomatic travellers from other States or other countries, who are on quarantine and all asymptomatic contacts of lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19 will also be tested using RT-PCR. Symptomatic contacts of travellers in the last 14 days, symptomatic health workers and frontline workers will also be tested using RT-PCR.

As before, all cases of Influenza-like Illnesses and Severe Acute Respiratory Infection will be tested using Rapid Antigen Assay. If they test negative despite their symptoms, they will be tested using RT-PCR on the same day, as early as possible during their symptomatic period.

Patients with no symptoms from containment zones will also be tested using antigen assay.

The State will continue to monitor the elderly in care homes in the States by testing all elderly inmates, even if they are asymptomatic, every month using RT-PCR.

In hospitals, all emergency and elective surgeries will be preceded by a TrueNat/CBNAAT test for COVID on the patient.

All weekly surveillance samples collected from the community – various workplaces, colleges – will be tested using pooled RT-PCR.

For people walking in for tests and those testing voluntarily, antigen assay would suffice. However, the patient history should be taken and the test chosen appropriately.

People who are symptomatic and who test negative in rapid antigen assay should be re-tested using RT-PCR. However, even if if they test negative again in PCR test, they should undergo seven days home isolation from the start of their symptoms, the GO issued by the Health Department says.

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