To improve the ambit of COVID19 testing in the community in J&K, now all people reporting to hospitals with respiratory infection symptoms will be tested for the viral infection with a new test kit that gives results in half an hour.
Financial Commissioner Health and Medical Education, Atal Dulloo said that the rapid antigen test kits had been procured to increase the quantum of testing and expand it to 'other groups'. He said the test kits will help in 'early detection' of COVID19 and faster initiation of treatment. "Due to the load of testing, the RT-PCR tests take at least 24 hours in J&K. During this period, we sometimes lose critical time for sick patients," he said.
He said that the test kits will be used on patients initially but the Government was planning to employ the faster method on other groups such as travelers. "That way we will reduce the load on our labs and be able to do more tests," he added.
"Patients with Influenza-like Illnesses (ILI) and Severe Acute Respiratory Infection (SARI) will be tested with rapid antigen test kits," Divisional Commissioner Kashmir, PK Pole said. He said that the test kits had been procured in adequate quantity by the UT and will be available from 29 July.
The test kits will be available at the district and sub-district hospitals, in addition to COVID19 clinics in other hospitals. Dulloo said samples of people with respiratory symptoms who test negative on rapid antigen test kits will be tested again on RT-PCR while those who test positive will be taken as positive for COVID19. "It is a reliable test," he said.
An official said J&K government has instructed all districts to set up Antigen Testing Centers near containment zones. He said 20,000 kits had been procured by the Government through JK Medical Supplies Corporation, while 30,000 more had been ordered.
The test results take 15-20 minutes and no equipment is required for testing, the official said. He said the antigen test involves taking a swab sample from a nasopharyngeal passage, mixing it with the reagent and putting it in a small tube with a window for results, all provided in the test kit.