The UP government on Sunday said that it will soon start rapid antigen testing in the worst Covid-affected districts of the state .
Principal Secretary (Health) Amit Mohan Prasad said while the Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) testing capacity in the state is being continuously increased, they are going to start rapid antigen testing.
“On Saturday, we tested 16,125 samples and in total, more than 5.60 lakh samples have been tested. We are continuously increasing the testing capacity. Other than the RT-PCR tests, we will also start antigen tests, which have been approved by the ICMR, in some selected districts. We are going to start with the National Capital Region (NCR) districts where a huge number of cases is being reported, and in districts like Lucknow, Kanpur Nagar, Varanasi, Prayagraj and Gorakhpur,” said Prasad.
Unlike the RT-PCR test used for diagnosis now — requiring heavy laboratory work to multiply the genetic material of the virus — the rapid antigen detection test is reliant on the amount of virus, or the virus load, in a nasal swab. It can give a result in 30 minutes.
Antigens (foreign substances that induce an immune response in the body) are found on or within the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
However, the rapid test has been found to have a higher chance of false negatives. So, while positive results will be considered confirmed, in case of negative results, an RT-PCR would be done for reconfirmation, the ICMR had stated while clearing it for containment zones last week.
Meanwhile, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath said that surveillance work should be given a new momentum to control the spread of coronavirus. He directed the Health Department to prepare a detailed action plan. He also directed the administrative and police officers to set up Covid helpdesk in the next three days.
“The CM has also instructed to arrange 10 per cent oxygen in L-1 hospitals. He has also directed to increase the testing capacity from 20 thousand to 25,000,” said Additonal Chief Secretary (Home) Awaneesh Kumar Awasthi, adding the government has come up with a new awareness slogan — “Do gaj ki doori, mask pehanna hai jaruri”.
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