New Delhi: In a bid to see whether the coronavirus is getting transmitted in the hotspot areas, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has set a fresh protocol for healthcare workers to start with a rapid antibody-based blood test for COVID-19. The top medical research body has framed a newer strategy for areas reporting in clusters (containment zone), in large migration gatherings and evacuee’s centres, where a large number of COVID-19 cases are arising. Also Read - Nepal Airport Under Renovation Amid Coronavirus Lockdown

ICMR stated that cases of Influenza-like Illness (ILI) are to be monitored in health facilities. Any surge in cases is to be monitored and brought to the notice of surveillance officer or chief medical officer for additional investigation. Also Read - Bangladesh Govt Decides Not to Extend COVID-19 Shutdown

“We have identified several hotspot areas where large numbers of COVID-19 cases are cropping up and the rapid anti-body test is most suitable to detect whether the disease is spreading in the area or not… Also, rapid antibody test gives quick results. Once a person is positive for the rapid anti-body test, he or she should be quarantined for 14 days and an RT-PCR test should be done as a confirmatory test,” Dr R Ganga Khedkar of ICMR told ANI. Also Read - COVID-19 Cases Cross 1.6 Lakh-mark; Death Toll Above 4,600; Shah Speaks to CMs Over Lockdown Extension | Key Points

“We have issued fresh guidelines for healthcare workers which say that all healthcare workers who are doing the rapid antibody test should use gloves, mask and headcovers. Healthcare workers collecting throat or nasal swab should follow standard national infection control guidelines,” he said.

The advisory also mentioned that as a matter of abundant precautions, all symptomatic ILI persons should be advised home quarantine for 14 days. At the facility level, symptomatic ILI individuals are to be tested using the rapid antibody test.

The guidelines mentioned, “Antibody test negative: if warranted, confirm by real-time RT PCR using throat or nasal swab. If RT PCR negative: likely non-COVID19 ILI and if RT PCR positive: confirmed COVID 19 case and action as per protocol to be initiated for isolation, treatment and contact tracing.”

“Anti-body test positive: After clinical assessment, treatment in hospital or isolation as per protocol. Action to be taken as per protocol to initiated for contact tracing,” it said.

ICMR has also appealed to the people on Saturday not to consume and spit smokeless tobacco in public places.

“Spitting in public places could enhance the spread of the COVID19 virus,” the ICMR said. “In view of the increasing danger of COVID-19 pandemic, it is an appeal to the general public to refrain from consuming the smokeless tobacco products and spitting in public places during the COVID epidemic.”

(With ANI, PTI Inputs)