West Bengal Health Dept requests ICMR to change guidelines on COVID-19 retests

By: |
August 4, 2020 4:35 PM

Around 50,000 antigen test kits have been distributed to all medical colleges and hospitals in the city and in the neighbouring districts.

West Bengal till Monday has reported 78,232 COVID-19 cases and 1,731 coronavirus deaths.

The West Bengal Health department has written to the ICMR requesting it to change its guidelines on “immediate retest” of a person of who has tested negative in antigen test for COVID-19, a senior official said on Tuesday. In this season of flu, there are people who are negative in antigen tests at several fever clinics but as per the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) guidelines they should be sent for the RT-PCR test immediately, he said.

“We have a different opinion on this…, we think, a person who has tested negative in antigen tests, be sent for the Reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test after a gap of at least three days and not immediately.

We believe that the total viral load will show up by then proving the antigen tests conclusive,” the official said. “We have written to the ICMR stating our observations and thus requested them to initiate a change in the guideline
for retests,” the official, who is also part of the Covid protocol committee said.

According to the official, who is also a medical practitioner, doctors at fever clinics in medical colleges and
hospitals in the state need not immediately prescribe RT-PCR test but should look for clear symptoms of COVID-19
infections.

“Doctors at fever clinics are prescribing RT-PCR tests at random… but instead of prescribing a patient to go for
RT-PCR test, they must look for clear symptoms like cough, breathlessness or loss of appetite and smell apart from fever. The patient can be a non-Covid-patient at a time when we are also having patients suffering from flu,” he said.

He said several patients who took the RT-PCR test at different fever clinics were found to be suffering from flu
and not the coronavirus. Since last week, antigen tests are being conducted in medical colleges and hospitals in the city and neighbouring districts.

Around 50,000 antigen test kits have been distributed to all medical colleges and hospitals in the city and in the
neighbouring districts. West Bengal till Monday has reported 78,232 COVID-19 cases and 1,731 coronavirus deaths.

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