Mumbai: As the total number of coronavirus cases in India rose to 298 on Saturday, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has revised its strategy for testing people for the COVID-19 virus. All hospitalized patients with severe acute respiratory illness, shortness of breath and having fever and cough will now be tested for infection.

Asymptomatic direct and high-risk contacts of a confirmed case should be tested once between Day 5 and Day 14 of coming contact with an infected individual. Direct and high-risk contacts include those who live in the same household with a confirmed case and healthcare workers who might have examined a confirmed case without adequate protection as per WHO recommendations.

ICMR's revised strategy is to avoid the community transmission of coronavirus infection in the country. The revised strategy also aims to provide reliable diagnosis to all individuals meeting the inclusion criteria of COVID-19 testing.

Till now, all asymptomatic individuals who undertook international travel in the last 14 days and developed symptoms, all symptomatic contacts of laboratory-confirmed cases and all symptomatic health care workers were being tested for the infection as per the guidelines.

“Currently, India has witnessed cases of COVID-19 mostly related to travel and local transmission from imported cases to their immediate contacts. Community transmission of the disease has not been documented till now. Once community transmission is documented, the current testing strategy will undergo changes to evolve into stage-appropriate testing strategy,” the ICMR said in its latest statement.

Further, ICMR said all asymptomatic individuals, who have undertaken international travel in the last 14 days, would have to stay in home quarantine for 14 days. They should be tested only if they become symptomatic (fever, cough, difficulty in breathing), as welll as all family members. Further, all symptomatic contacts of laboratory confirmed cases, all symptomatic health care workers and all hospitalised patients with severe acute respiratory illness should be home quarantined.

ICMR's revised strategy comes into effect days after the number of testing laboratories has also been increased and the government has also brought in private diagnostics centres to assist the public establishment in wake of the volumes of suspected cases every day.

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