Covid-19: TAC recommends testing of all household and primary contacts

A BBMP health worker collecting a swab sample for COVID-19 testing in Bengaluru.

A BBMP health worker collecting a swab sample for COVID-19 testing in Bengaluru. | Photo Credit: FILE PHOTO

Reviewing the current scenario of COVID-19 in the India, Karnataka’s COVID-19 Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) in its recent meeting has recommended testing of all household and primary contacts of positive cases at work places.

Since January, Karnataka has been following the ICMR’s purposive testing strategy that said contacts of infected patients do not need to be tested unless identified as high-risk based on age.

The TAC, which revisited the ICMR’s circular (on purposive testing) dated January 10 when the Omicron driven third wave was peaking in India, has advised Karnataka to ramp up testing to up to 30,000 per day. Of these 15,000 tests should be in Bengaluru and the remaining in the rest of Karnataka, stated the TAC’s report.

Specific districts

“The testing numbers should be increased in Bagalkote, Ballari, Bidar, Chikkamagaluru, Chitradurga, Haveri, Kodagu, Raichur, Shivamogga, Udupi and Yadgiri. All ILI/SARI cases and symptomatic persons with inter-state and international travel history should  be compulsorily tested,” stated the report.

“In the due course of time, it is recommended to develop a criteria / norm of testing that will truly reflect the COVID scenario in populations,” the report said.

Although Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai had announced in the last week of April that the daily tests will be increased to 30,000 in the State, districts have not been able to even conduct half of this number. Testing has increased only in the last few days and on Wednesday 20,888 tests were done after a long time. 

This is mainly because the ICMR’s purposive testing strategy limited the scope of testing. Under this strategy, asymptomatic patients undergoing surgical or non-surgical invasive procedures, including pregnant women in/near labour who are hospitalised for delivery, should not be tested unless warranted or symptoms develop. The ICMR circular also said no emergency procedure, including surgeries, should be delayed due to lack of a test. Besides, interstate travellers also need not be tested.

Not enough people

District authorities said they are not finding enough people meeting this requirement for testing. In the wake of this, Health Commissioner Randeep D. had sought the TAC’s opinion on whether the scope of testing can be enhanced.

“I had requested the TAC to relook at the test numbers and testing strategy in order to achieve the higher testing numbers. Now, following the TAC’s recommendation, approval of the government will be taken before issuing a fresh testing advisory,” the Commissioner told The Hindu on Thursday.

Containment strategy

The TAC has also recommended a containment strategy to avoid clustering and spread of COVID after detection of a positive case in the community.

“The infected person should be in home isolation or COVID Care Centre (CCC) or in hospital based on clinical condition and other criteria as per the State notifications till date. Apart from testing all household and primary contacts at the workplace,  all symptomatic persons and those with recent history of interstate and international travel in apartment complexes should be compulsorily tested,” the TAC’s report stated.

“Special actions are needed in apartment complexes in Bengaluru, particularly with reference to use of common areas like closing of party halls, gyms, club areas, swimming pools, etc. as per existing SOPs and making the President and Secretary of the society responsible for the compliance,” the report added.

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Printable version | Jun 29, 2022 6:18:24 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/tac-recommends-testing-of-all-household-and-primary-contacts-of-positive-cases/article65431080.ece