STATE TIMES NEWS
New Delhi: An increasing uptake of home tests for COVID-19 is being observed with two lakh of them used in the last 20 days while just 3,000 were utilised last year, the health ministry said.
Addressing the weekly press conference, ICMR Director General Dr Balram Bhargava said overall test performance in the country is being maintained at a level comparable with the second wave.
“Testing commodities are in plenty, whether it be for RT-PCR, whether it be for rapid antigen tests or for home antigen tests, or ancillary equipment like viral transport medium or RNA extraction kits. What is important is that we have noted an increasing in uptake of home tests,” he said.
“In the whole of last year, only 3,000 home tests were recorded and in these 20 days, we have seen two lakh home tests which have been used,” Bhargava said.
Few districts and states are witnessing a dip in test performance and they have been encouraged to ramp it up, he said.
Responding to a question, Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said till now, 1.64 lakh genomes have been sequenced.
“In December, 16,000 genome sequencing was done, and genome sequence is important in terms of public health response. It is not beneficial to an individual to know if they are infected with Delta or Omicron because the testing procedure and treatment remains the same. So, genome sequencing is important to understand how to mould public health response,” he said.
NITI Aayog Member (Health) Dr V K Paul said genome sequencing has to be strategic and has to be based on systematic collection of specimens.
“When Omicron started the most important phase was that when travellers are coming then what impact that has. Then in facilities it has to be monitored who was getting admitted, those infected with Omicron or Delta,” he said.
He said that 269 sentinel centres have been established and these are still functioning. “So, there is no specific formula of genomic sequencing,” Paul said.