Dr Balram Bhargava, the Director-General of Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) said about the reason behind why a term of 7 days is devoted for home isolation.
The lateral flow tests, which includes rapid-antigen and home-antigen tests, can detect Covid from the third day after exposure to the virus to day eight while the RT-PCR test can diagnose the infection for up to 20 days.
There is an important factor called the latent period which means the time that the virus takes to grow within the human system. From the third day, it will be detected in the Lateral Flow Tests and up to the eighth day, the infectious period lasts.
"That is why, the discharge policy and home isolation policy are focusing on the seven-day period," Mr Bhargava explained.
It was emphasized that at times RT-PCR test results may continue to be positive even after day eight as certain RNA particles which are non-infective, continue to be shed and will continue to cause test results to be positive. The ICMR director-general said that for Omicron, lateral flow tests have become the backbone.
It was said that as per the government advisory, high-risk contacts of confirmed Covid cases, identified based on age or comorbidities, those undertaking inter-state travel do not need to get tested.
It was added that asymptomatic individuals in community settings, patients who stand discharged according to home-isolation guidelines and those being discharged from a COVID-19 facility under the revised discharge policy do not need to get tested.
Stress has been given on the seven-day home quarantine for all contacts of any positive case according to the guidelines and added that they should continue to wear a mask.Stress was laid on the seven-day home quarantine for all contacts of any positive case according to the guidelines and added that they should continue to wear a mask.
Referring to the Advisory on Purposive Testing Strategy for COVID-19 in India issued by ICMR recently, he said symptomatic individuals, even if they test negative on a home test or rapid-antigen test should go for RT-PCR test.
According to the advisory, testing can be undertaken either through RT-PCR, TrueNat, CBNAAT, CRISPR, RT-LAMP, Rapid Molecular Testing Systems or through the rapid-antigen test.
A positive point-of-care test and molecular test is to be considered confirmatory, without any repeat testing. Symptomatic individuals, testing negative on home/self-test or rapid-antigen test should undertake RT-PCR test, the advisory stated.
In community settings, symptomatic individuals, at-risk contacts (elderly and individuals with comorbidity) of laboratory-confirmed cases may be tested.
Also, individuals undertaking international travel may be tested.
In hospital settings, testing may be undertaken as per the discretion of the doctor with considerations such as no emergency procedure should be delayed for lack of a test and patients should not be referred to other facilities for lack of a testing facility, the advisory stated.
All arrangements should be made to collect and transfer samples to testing facilities, mapped to the health facility.