Rapid antigen tests that administration has been markedly using to detect novel coronavirus have proved unreliable. The complete reliance on it may make efforts towards normal life difficult, especially as what has been happening in the neighborhood. The return to lockdown, even though on a limited scale, is being viewed as an option by some governments including New Delhi. Governments around the world have been looking for an accurate test for COVID-19 infection. The diagnostic RT-PCR test to confirm the presence of the virus, using a nasal swab in a laboratory setting, remains the most reliable. However, what transpires on the ground is that rapid test is used more than the RT-PCR.
Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has recommended the use of Standard Q COVID-19 Ag detection assay (antigen detection test) as a point of care diagnostic assay for testing under certain settings in combination with RT-PCR test.
Those who test negative for COVID-19 by rapid antigen test are to be definitely tested sequentially by RT-PCR to rule out infection, whereas a positive test should be considered as a true positive and does not need reconfirmation by RT-PCR test, the ICMR advisory provides without any doubt. In this scenario, the over-reliance on rapid test detection is not something to be followed as a sole test.
There is also a need to proactively identify the critical cases and provide prompt medical intervention to check the morality trend.
The perimeter control, active house to house surveillance, contact tracing, and timely testing has to be ensured without any delay. All close contacts of new cases are to be traced with 72 hours of detection.
Unless there is an effective drug or vaccine available, the government and its allied agencies have to keep a check on the spread of infection through travelers, primary and secondary contacts.
Financial Commissioner, Health & Medical Education, has rightly emphasized upon the Chief Medical Officers for effective focused sampling and contact tracing in all the districts so that the chain of transmission is contained. He also asked Director SKIMS and the Principals of Government Medical Colleges to run RT-PCR testing facilities on full capacity. He also stressed upon concerned to test the samples from catchment areas.
There is a need to follow the instructions in the letter and spirit. It is also important for people not to turn complacent and follow social distancing and hand hygiene dutifully.