Lateral Flow Tests Can Detect COVID From Day 3, RT-PCR Can Diagnose Infection Upto 20 Days: ICMR

The lateral flow tests can detect COVID from the third day after exposure to the virus to day eight while the RT-PCR test can diagnose the infection for up to 20 days, ICMR Director-General Dr Balram Bhargava said.

Updated: January 13, 2022 12:01 AM IST

By India.com News Desk | Edited by Snigdha Choudhury

Lateral Flow Tests Can Detect COVID From Day 3, RT-PCR Can Diagnose Infection Upto 20 Days: ICMR
ICMR director-general Dr Balram Bhargava said that for Omicron, lateral flow tests have become the backbone. (Photo: AFP)

New Delhi: The lateral flow tests, which includes rapid-antigen and home-antigen tests, can detect COVID from the third day after exposure to the virus to day eight while the RT-PCR test can diagnose the infection for up to 20 day, Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) Director-General Dr Balram Bhargava said on Wednesday.

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Addressing a press conference, Dr Balram Bhargava said,”It takes time for the virus to grow in your system and that is known as the latent period. From day three it will be detectable in the Lateral Flow Tests and up to day eight which is the infectious period.”

“That is why, the discharge policy and home isolation policy are focusing on the seven-day period,” Dr Bhargava said.

The ICMR chief said that RT-PCR test results will “continue to be positive even after day eight because certain RNA particles which are non-infective will continue to be shed and will continue to cause test results to be positive.”

The ICMR director-general said that for Omicron, lateral flow tests have become the backbone. Bhargava said that according to government advisory, high-risk contacts of confirmed COVID cases, identified based on age or comorbidities, those undertaking inter-state travel do not need to get tested.

Discharge policy of COVID patients revised in India

Earlier, the government revised the discharge policy for COVID-19 patients after categorising the severity of the disease into mild and moderate. Addressing the media, Lav Agarwal, Joint Secretary, Health Ministry informed that after a review meeting by Prime Minister Narendra Modi over COVID situation, the ministry has revised their discharge policy.

“Mild case discharge after at least 7 days from testing positive & non-emergency for 3 successive days, no need for testing prior to discharge,” the health ministry said in a statement.

“Moderate case – if there is resolution of symptoms, patient maintains O2 saturation> 93% for 3 successive days (without O2)..such patient will be discharged,” the health ministry said.

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Published Date: January 12, 2022 11:28 PM IST

Updated Date: January 13, 2022 12:01 AM IST