The Kerala government on Wednesday decided to give permission to conduct COVID-19 diagnostic tests in private labs without a prescription from a doctor. Earlier, it was mandatory to produce a prescription by an approved medical practitioner for a person to get tested at a private facility.
Recognised labs across the state will be conducting these tests at a rate stipulated by the state government. Individuals can receive the results directly. An informed consent and declaration form will also be needed and the labs are expected to collect a copy of a government-issued identity card from the person getting tested.
“The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) had on July 1 requested the states and union territories to allow laboratories to test an individual in accordance with its guidelines. It also added that no restriction should be imposed that prevents an individual from getting tested,” an officer from the Health Department was quoted as saying.
This provision is applicable only for RT-PCR, CBNAAT, TrueNat, and rapid antigen tests, says a directive issued by Health Principal Secretary Rajan Khobragade. “The rates to be charged by the private laboratories for each of the tests have been fixed by the government. A person may approach an approved private laboratory to undergo the Covid-19 test. A prescription from a registered medical practitioner is preferred for the test but not mandatory. But an informed consent and declaration form should be signed and submitted by the person undergoing the test to the lab-in-charge,” reads an excerpt from the directive.
“A walk-in kiosk (WiSK) model may be adopted by the lab. It should also ensure that the person is provided with a pre-test counselling that focuses on ways to prevent infection, services available in the government and private sector for managing COVID patients and others. Following the test, the result may be disclosed to the person who had undergone the test with proper post-test counselling, guidance, and reassurance,” said the officer.
Though the directive says that asymptomatic patients with no other health issues can undergo home isolation, the lab-in-charge will have to report the patient’s details and results on the online platform in real time and inform the district health authorities/DISHA for follow-up.
Table: Number of total Covid-19 tests and positive cases per day for the past seven days
Meanwhile, Kerala on Wednesday reported 1,212 fresh COVID-19 cases, including 22 health workers, and five deaths taking the infection count to 38,144 and the death toll to 125. Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said the day's recoveries stood at 880 and there were 13,045 active cases.
"Out of the 1,212 new cases, 1,068 are through their contacts. The source of 45 cases is yet to be identified. Fifty-one people came from abroad while 64 from other states. 22 of the affected area health workers," he told the reporters. With the 880 people cured, the cumulative recoveries in the state had risen to 24,926.
"Currently, 13,045 people are under treatment for COVID-19 in the state. At least 1,51,752 people are under observation, including 12,426 in isolation wards of various hospitals across the state," he said.
He also said 30 more regions in the state have been categorised as hot spots, taking the total number to 540. Thiruvananthapuram, the capital district has 3,109 cases, the highest in the state followed by Malappuram with 1,726 cases. Ernakulam has 1,355 cases, Kozhikode (1,237), Alappuzha (1,182) and Kasaragod (1,030) are among the districts with high numbers.
Also read: The Truth Behind Modi’s Agri Infra Investment