J&K govt sets daily target of 10,000 rapid antigen tests

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Jammu and Kashmir government has directed the health authorities in Kashmir region to conduct 10,000 rapid antigen tests daily to ramp up the testing rate in order to check the spread of COVID19 at the community level.

Sources informed Greater Kashmir that chief secretary, BVR Subrahmanyan, at a review meeting with the health department officials set the target of 10,000 rapid antigen tests a day in Kashmir.

The rapid antigen kit gives test result within 15 minutes.

“The decision was taken to get a picture of the level of spread of viral illness in the community,” said an official who was part of the meeting. “As of now the health department on an average is conducting 3000 rapid antigen tests a day,” the official said.

He said that the government has now decided to introduce rapid antigen testing at non-COVID hospitals, PHCs, SDHs to ensure ramp up the testing rate.

Speaking to Greater Kashmir, Officer on Special Duty, Directorate of Health Services Kashmir, Dr Qazi Haroon said: “Health department will be conducting 10,000 rapid antigen tests a day. Rapid antigen tests will be conducted in red zones, contacts of COVID positive patients, PHCs, SDHs and other designated places in all the districts of Kashmir region.”

He said: “We have introduced this rapid testing facility at Srinagar Airport, Railway station, Lakhanpur and many other places at district level to ensure speeding testing of COVID suspects.”

According to data of the health department, since its introduction, over 30,000 rapid antigen tests have been done in Kashmir, of which 2900 have tested COVID positive.

A senior official stated that during a meeting in this regard, the Divisional Commissioner Kashmir has directed all the chief medical officers of Kashmir to do rapid antigen testing at non-covid hospitals for suspected patients and before surgery/any intervention.

Earlier, the Jammu and Kashmir Administration had issued protocol saying: “All passengers arriving by air, rail or road into the UT of Jammu and Kashmir shall be 100 percent tested for COVID-19 using the RT-PCR or rapid antigen test or prescribed method.”

An antigen is a protein (in this case present on the virus) that induces an immune response in the body in the form of production of antibodies against a disease, and detecting its presence through an antigen-based test determines a present infection.

The antigen based kit largely being used currently, especially by governments, is Indian Council of Medical Research approved ‘Standard Q COVID-19 Ag detection kit’ developed by SD Biosensor, a South Korea based company that has its manufacturing unit in Manesar, Gurugram.