As surge in fresh Covid-19 cases continues to be a cause of worry in Madhya Pradesh, the state government is all set to introduce rapid antigen tests starting Thursday, July 30.
Struggling to keep up with the testing as large numbers of infections were being reported daily, the State Health department decided to start conducting rapid antigen tests for the virus that will offer results in about half an hour with the help of nasal swab sample.
Contrary to this, the state had till now been using RT-PCR to conducts the tests that took four to five hours to declare the results and also required a big set up.
However, the rapid antigen tests are carried out by using a small kit, which will be used in two categories including red zones/containment zones and Covid-19 care hospitals.
Starting Thursday, the number of tests conducted daily will be increased to 2,500 in state capital Bhopal, which has reported over 450 new cases in the last 48 hours.
Taking to reporters, Home minister Dr Narottam Mishra said that as a part of the 'Kill Corona' campaign, the state government is taking daily tests in Bhopal to 2,500. "Identifying suspected persons by reaching out to their doorsteps and killing corona virus is our priority," he said.
Taking a note of increasing number corona suspects, the district administration issued a list of 19 hotels in the city to be used as paid quarantine centres by suspected coronavirus patients.
As lockdown relaxations were introduced in the city, the numbers of infected persons surged rapidly in the last two days - 246 and 218 new cases respectively - in Bhopal, which is presently the worst-affected district in Madhya Pradesh.
Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan along with three of his cabinet ministers and several other MLAs including BJP state president VD Sharma have also been infected with the virus.
The rapid antigen test facility has been started by the state government on the recommendation of the Indian Council of Medial Research (ICMR) and all the NABL-recognised labs and dedicated Covid-19 care hospitals will carry out these tests. Other private labs interested in carrying out the tests will be required to enter their real-time details into the ICMR portal.
State Health minister Prabhuram Chaudhary said that the rapid antigen tests are being started in Bhopal and Morena on pilot project basis and 1,000 kits have been purchased for the purpose. Once the tests offer positive results, it will be implemented in entire state, he added.
Besides Bhopal, Morena has also emerged as a hotspot in Madhya Pradesh in the last few weeks with its persistent surge in infection. The total number of cases in Morena surged to 1,555 by Wednesday evening.
Presently, Bhopal is under a ten-day lockdown that ends on August 3. However, the administration’s response to the lockdown has been dismal as large numbers of locals are venturing out on streets and markets especially in the old city areas that are most-affected by Covid-19.
According to a Health bulletin issued by the state government on Wednesday, the total number of cases reached around 21,000 in the state with 8,356 active cases. The test positivity rate has surged to 6.4% in the state.