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20220111

Revised ICMR guidelines welcome step, no need of unnecessary testing asymptomatic people for COVID-19, says AIIMS Doctor

New Delhi : There is no need for unnecessary testing of asymptomatic individuals in community setting and the revised ICMR guidelines for COVID-19 testing are a welcome step, Dr Puneet Misra, Professor of Community Medicine at AIIMS Delhi has said. "I would like to appreciate the decision of Government of India and ICMR. It is really important that the people who really need to be tested should only be tested. Testing people who are asymptomatic in the community setting doesn't make any sense at this stage," Dr Misra told media. He said most of the cases of omicron variant are asymptomatic. "I think looking at the circumstances and public health science behind it, the Centre and ICMR have taken a very good step to revise guidelines. It is time to focus on mitigation strategies so it is better to focus on symptomatic cases and the people who are at high risk," he said. He said individuals who are symptomatic or who are high risk contacts should go for testing and also those needing it for international travel. Talking about the severity of the third COVID-19 wave, Dr Misra said in terms of mortality and hospital admissions "it is lot less than the Delta variant and very few people are requiring oxygen support or ventilatory support or hospitalization". He said measures like night curfew will lead to limited gains and every one should avoid going to crowded places unnecessarily or going out of their houses. Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has said in its latest guidelines that anyone who has come in contact with a COVID-infected patient, does not necessarily need to take COVID-19 test unless the person is in the 'high-risk' category based on age or comorbidities. In the advisory on Purposive Testing Strategy for COVID-19, ICMR stated that people who need not be tested include "contacts of confirmed cases of COVID-19 unless identified as high risk based on age or comorbidities". Besides, asymptomatic individuals in community settings, patients who stand discharged as per home isolation guidelines, patients discharged from a COVID-19 facility as per revised discharge policy and individuals undertaking inter-state domestic travel need not be tested, ICMR has said. But individuals with cough, fever, sore throat, loss of taste or smell, breathlessness and other respiratory symptoms should be tested, the government body said. Among others who may be tested for COVID-19 include at-risk contacts of laboratory confirmed cases, individuals undertaking international travel and international travellers arriving at Indian airports, seaports and ports, it said. In a hospital setting, ICMR said no emergency procedure like surgeries and deliveries should be delayed for lack of a test. Asymptomatic patients undergoing surgical, non-surgical invasive procedures including pregnant women in or near labour who are hospitalised for delivery should not be tested unless warranted or symptoms develop, the advisory said.

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