Use RT-PCR Test To Retest All Symptomatic Negative Cases Of Rapid Antigen Tests: Health Ministry To States, UTsUnion Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan (Pic Via Twitter)

Amid rising number of new Coronavirus cases in the country, Union Health Ministry has asked the states and union territories to mandatorily retest all symptomatic negative cases tested by Rapid Antigen Tests (RAT) using the "gold-standard" RT-PCR testing to curb the spread of Covid-19.

In a statement issued on Thursday (10 September), the Health Ministry said it has noted that in some large states, symptomatic negative cases tested by Rapid Antigen Tests (RAT) are not being followed up by RT-PCR testing.

The ministry said that the guidelines of ICMR as well as the Health Ministry clearly state that two specific categories of persons -- all symptomatic negative cases of RAT, and all asymptomatic negative cases of RAT that develop symptoms within 2 to 3 days of being tested negative -- must necessarily be retested through RT-PCR tests.

"In this background, the Union Health Ministry and ICMR have jointly written to all the States, UTs and urged them to ensure that the all symptomatic negative cases of RAT are mandatorily retested using the RT-PCR test," the statement said.

The ministry said that the retesting 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/hospitalization of such false negatives," it added.

In the joint letter, it has also been reiterated that while the RAT is 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, 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 shall analyse details of RAT conducted on a daily basis in the districts and state and ensure that there are no delays in retesting of all symptomatic negative cases, the statement said.

"The aim of States, UTs should be to ensure that no potentially positive case is missed out," it added.

The states and UTs have also been advised by the Health Ministry to undertake an analysis on a regular basis to monitor the incidence of positives during the RT-PCR tests conducted as a follow up.

The development has come amid the rising number of coronavirus cases in the country. As of Thursday, over 44.65 lakh Covid-19 cases has been recorded in the country, with over 95,000 new cases being reported on Wednesday (9 September).

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