Kochi: The south Indian state of Kerala, which first dealt with positive Covid-19 cases in the country, has initiated rapid testing to detect infected persons quickly and take measures to contain the spread of the deadly disease in the community.
Though the primary priority will be suspect cases in worst-hit Kasargode and Pathanamthitta districts, the Department of Health Services plans to extend the same across the state and worked out a criterion as to who all should undergo the quick test.
The returnees from Covid-19 hit countries and their primary contacts should undergo the test irrespective of whether they are symptomatic or not. Then comes those whom doctors suspect to have contracted with the illness, those treating the infected and health workers associated with them, Health Minister K K Shailaja said.
The residents of areas which reported a sudden surge in acute respiratory diseases and those with history of such illness too should take the test. Rapid testing will be done on all those under observation or quarantine currently. All these enable detecting positive cases quickly and the extension of advanced treatment facilities to them. All these will help in containing the community transmission, she added.
However, the rapid testing can be done only by ICMR (Indian Council of Medical Research) approved government and private laboratories and that too with the prescription of doctors.
The state reported 181 positive cases so far. While 593 are admitted in designated isolation facilities, a total of 1,41,211 persons are placed under surveillance.
According to health officials, rapid testing involves blood samples instead of swabs of patients for testing at laboratories. The method is cheaper (around Rs 800) and the results obtained quicker than the PCR (Polymerase chain reaction) tests (around Rs 4000).
However, rapid testing is done just to detect prevalence of any type of virus and the positive cases need to be reconfirmed using PCR tests. This can’t be used as a primary diagnostic test but the possible carriers can be detected quickly and put under isolation.