In the order, the Centre reiterated that ‘Test-Track-Treat’ is the key strategy for early detection and containment of the novel coronavirus outbreak.
All registered doctors can now prescribe COVID-19 tests while following the guidelines laid down by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).
The Centre made the announcement on July 2 with the aim of increasing the number of coronavirus tests being conducted in India, by expanding the testing ambit through maximum utilisation of the country’s testing capacity.
The move is also expected to reduce the pressure on doctors working in government hospitals, who were the only ones authorised to prescribe COVID-19 tests until now.
The order, released by the Health Ministry on July 2, read: “COVID-19 testing can now be done on the prescription of any registered practitioner, and not exclusively a Government doctor. The Centre has strongly advised States/UTs to take immediate steps to facilitate testing at the earliest by enabling all qualified medical practitioners, including private practitioners, to prescribe COVID-19 test to any individual fulfilling the criteria for testing as per ICMR guidelines.”
The Centre further urged all states/ UTs to ramp up testing by ensuring full capacity utilization of all COVID-19 testing laboratories, especially the private ones, so as to significantly benefit people.
The order reiterated that ‘Test-Track-Treat’ is the key strategy for early detection and containment of the outbreak.
The Centre has also clarified that no state government should stop private laboratories from conducting coronavirus test of any individual as long as they are abiding by the ICMR guidelines.
Suggesting other measures to increase India’s coronavirus testing capacity, the Health Ministry said that the simpler and faster Rapid Antigen tests can be conducted along with RT-PCR tests. They also suggested testing campaigns be organised and mobile testing vans be introduced to increase outreach.
“This shall effectively take COVID-19 tests to the people’s doorsteps in high incidence areas," the order said.
So far, 90,56,173 coronavirus tests have been conducted through a diagnostic testing network spanning 1,065 testing labs. The per-day COVID-19 testing capacity is gradually improving, with 2,29,588 tests being conducted on July 1 alone.Follow our coverage of the coronavirus crisis here