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COVID-19: Govt to review guidelines to see if ‘on-demand’ Coronavirus testing can be allowed

At present, an individual needs to get a COVID-19 test prescribed by a qualified medical practitioner. (File image)

With nearly nine lakh COVID-19 tests being held per day, the government on Tuesday said it would review the guidelines for testing to see if it can be made available on an on-demand basis for the people.

Responding to a question on why on-demand testing is not being implemented for those who are willing to pay for it even as the testing capacity has been significantly ramped up, NITI Aayog member Dr V K Paul, at a press briefing on Tuesday, said the government would review the guidelines for testing.

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“Practically it is already on demand in many ways. We will review this looking at the capacity and access to people. We are almost there. We have to make sure that the resources are used for the very best purpose. Frivolous use of these technologies and resources is not desirable,” he said.

At present, an individual needs to get a COVID-19 test prescribed by a qualified medical practitioner.

The daily new cases of COVID-19 and deaths due to the disease have shown a declining trend from August 13, Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said on Tuesday, but warned against any laxity, underlining that the five-day span is too short a duration in the context of a pandemic.

Responding to a question on whether India is past its COVID peak, Bhushan said the government does not believe in mathematical models that predict peaks as in several instances in the past projections were made which turned out to be “far from reality”.

He stressed that the states and UTs should focus on effective implementation of containment measures, surveillance, contact tracing, aggressive testing, timely treatment in hospitals and better quality care to increase the recovery rate and reduce the fatality rate.

On a query related to pricing of COVID-19 tests, Bhushan said the price rate has decreased from the start of testing in January.

The diagnostic kits were mostly imported and hence prices were high till March, he said.

“Now, most of these testing kits are available on government e-marketplace and also the prices are in public domain. So, now the state governments have become empowered to negotiate and procure better test-kits at a reasonable rate,” he said.

In reply to a query, Bhushan said though ‘we are getting satisfactory results of all the measures taken, there is no reason to slacken our guard’.

He said the services of those who have recovered from COVID-19 are being taken as volunteers in many states.

They work for raising awareness about COVID-19 and urging people in urban as well as rural areas to go for testing on having symptoms.

They are also encouraging people to seek treatment in COVID Care Centres or Hospitals on being tested positive, he said.

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