The Union health ministry and the Indian Council of Medical Research on Friday wrote to all states and Union territories asking them to ramp up testing as RT-PCR results may take time due to huge pressure. In such cases, the governments should increase rapid antigen testing and encourage people to use self-testing kits that have been approved by the government. Any individual presenting with fever with/ without cough, headache, sore throat, breathlessness. bodyache, recent loss of taste or smell, fatigue and diarrhea should be considered as suspect cases of Covid-19 unless proven otherwise by confirmation or another etiology. All such individuals must be tested, the Centre said.

“A rise in Covid-19 cases accompanied by an increase in positivity rate is being documented in various parts of the country. Early testing of suspect patients and their contacts and isolating them expeditiously are one of the key measures to curb transmission of SARS-CoV-2, the letter said.

“Based on the previous experience, it has been observed that if the number of the cases rise above a certain threshold, RTPCR-based testing leads to delays in confirming diagnosis due to its turnaround time of about 5-8 hours, it said.

Listing out the symptoms which need to be tested, the Centre said while their results are awaited, they should be advised to isolate and follow the home Isolation guideline of the Health ministry.

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Starting from December 26, India is witnessing a sudden surge in the daily Covid toll, which is believed to be driven by Omicron, the latest variant of SARS-CoV-2 Experts believe Omicron has replaced Delta to be the dominant strain in the country as maximum cases reported now are of the Omicron variant

As on Friday, India’s Omicron tally stands at 1,270 while the country recorded 16,764 new infections and 220 daily fatalities. The sudden decline in the cases has triggered apprehension that the third wave of the pandemic has begun in the country. The Centre on Thursday said the surge in India could be linked to the global surge but there is no need to panic.

WHO chief scientist’s warning

Chief scientist of World Health Organization Dr Soumya Swaminathan on Friday said hospitalization due to Omicron is rising across the world, mostly in unvaccinated people. Sounding an alarm for countries which are beginning to feel the heat of Omicron, Dr Swaminathan said, “Though Omicron may cause less severe disease, a small % of a huge number is still very large and can overwhelm health systems.” Congratulating health workers, the chief scientist said vaccination protects against hospitalization and death be it caused by Omicron, Delta or any other variant of covid. The warning comes as India is seeing a sudden increase in the number of daily Covid cases possibly driven by Omicron.

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