While there have been right calls from the government for remaining vigilant and cautious, more activities are being allowed to open instantaneously while the number of tests, especially Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) are not being matched to the requisite number. This perhaps stands reason that the Lieutenant Governor, during district-wise assessment of Covid situation with Covid Task Force, DCs and SPs last week, called for increasing RT-PCR Testing in areas with a high positivity rate.
Also Chief Secretary and Chairperson, State Executive Committee, in an order regarding further easing of the covid-19 restrictions on Sunday called for increasing the RT-PCR tests in the total mix, underlining that it should be scaled up on the best effort to 70% or more excluding the travelers.
The RT-PCR test actually detects RNA (or genetic material) that is specific to the virus and can detect the virus within days of infection, even those who have no symptoms.
The assertion by the Lieutenant Governor and SEC comes on close heel to the Director Health Services Kashmir’s statement in the last week of June this year that all the Districts are performing “less number” of RT-PCR tests than what has been stipulated by the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Government of India in the guidelines issued from time to time.
While it is true that the Indian Council of Medical Research, in its testing guideline issued on May 4, talked about reducing RT-PCR tests to take the load off the existing laboratories then but it never asked the governments to stop the gold standard tests altogether.
According to ICMR, individuals with symptoms identified negative by rapid antigen testing should be linked with the RT-PCR test facility.
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.
As has been rightly pointed out by the Lieutenant Governor and the SEC, there is a need to increase the test for the detection of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19 and to achieve it all the concerned need to put act together.