Four months after permitting private laboratories to conduct Covid-19 tests, the UT administration has given the nod to collection of samples from home for RT-PCR, antibody and antigen tests.
Three ICMR-approved private laboratories have been conducting Covid-19 tests in Chandigarh. These are lSRL Diagnostic in Sector 11, Atulaya Healthcare and Metropolis Healthcare, with the price for RT-PCR test fixed at Rs 2,000 by the UT Administration, but no regulation imposed on the cost of antibody testing.
The laboratories are now gearing up to meet protocols and safety measures to be ready with all the requirements and benchmarks set by the ICMR for collection of samples from homes.
Metropolis will be charging Rs 2,000 for RT-PCR and Rs 850 for rapid antibody while Atulaya Healthcare will charge Rs 999 for antibody test and Rs 1,500 for the rapid antigen. SRL has started home collection, with RT-PCR priced at Rs 2,000 and the rapid antigen at Rs 1,200.
Some precautions have to be kept in mind for home collection of samples, says Dr Anita Sharma, Associate Director and head, Lab Medicine, Fortis Hospital, Mohali. She says the labs should follow ICMR guidelines for testing, have a good logistics arrangement for shipment of samples and have trained staff for collection.
The person collecting the sample should be well-trained and equipped to collect the nasopharyngeal swab. He should also be trained in wearing and taking off the PPE and carry masks, visors, hand sanitiser, biomedical waste bags for bringing back the used PPE and other items.
The sample, she adds, should be collected in a well-ventilated space preferably outdoors if possible and the attendant must maintain social distance. Patients should be wearing masks at all times except for the time of sample collection and the collection area needs to be cleaned thereafter.
“In case antigen test is negative and the patient is symptomatic with a high index of suspicion for Covid, they should be tested using RT-PCR. Antibody test is a different test which is not used for active diagnosis of Covid. It is indicative of a recent or past infection. Hence it should be used for surveillance purposes to understand the community prevalence of the disease at a given point of time,” the doctor says.
Dr Sandeep Chhatwal, an internal medicine and general physician, Omni Clinics and Diagnostics, says home collection of samples is a welcome move as the team visiting the home of a suspect is prepared and can take adequate precautions.
“Also, suspected cases going outside to get tests done would risk many others as they would not be aware of the protocols to follow.”
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines