Expressing concern over the non-reporting of coronavirus positive cases diagnosed using self-testing kits by people, the Maharashtra health department has written to the district and civic officials to monitor the sale of such kits and ensure that patients report their infection to the authorities.
Dr Pradeep Vyas, additional chief secretary of the state public health department, gave these directions to all the municipal and divisional commissioners, district collectors and chief executive officers of Zilla Parishads (ZPs) in a letter written on Wednesday.
In the letter, he also asked the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to sensitise chemists and pharmacists so that they can educate customers buying these COVID-19 self-testing kits to report about their infection to the authorities.
"It is expected that all COVID-19 positive tests conducted through rapid antigen test kits or home test kits are reported to the authorities. But it seems that there is a large number of coronavirus positive cases diagnosed through these kits that have not been reported to the authorities concerned and such persons appear to be in home isolation," he said in the letter.
People should report positive test results found using the home kits to the district or civic authorities so that their health can be monitored, he added.
The letter also said that as per the genome sequencing results, about 70 per cent of the cases are of Delta strain.
"Rapid antigen tests generally do not distinguish between the Delta and Omicron variants. So it may so happen that many of these home isolated COVID-19 patients may need hospital care (particularly those with Delta strain and co-morbidities) and suddenly there may be a stress on our health infrastructure," Dr Vyas said in the letter.
He also asked the officials to take help of the FDA and monitor the sale of such self-testing kits to know the geographical areas where these kits are being used on a large scale.
"Chemists can also be educated so that they can inform the people purchasing such kits to report about the positive test results to the authorities concerned," the letter added.
Following the instructions, joint commissioner of the FDA (Pune division), S B Patil, issued a notification, asking all the retail as well as wholesale chemists and pharmacists in Pune to keep a record of the customers who buy the home test kits.
"It is important to keep all the details such as name, phone number, address of the customer who buys a kit and also the particulars of the kit. All such records will be checked by the drug inspectors," the FDA notification said.
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