GUWAHATI, April 23 - Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma today said that after the final nod from ICMR, the State health department started rapid antibody tests for COVID-19 in the State starting from Spanish Garden in the city - a containment zone. Centre has given 9,600 rapid antibody test kits to the State.
Some hundred tests were conducted at the housing complex. Sources said one representative from each apartment was made to undergo the test. �The test is non-confirmatory yet useful for surveillance. It gives results in 15 minutes,� Sarma said.
�If all test results are negative, we might consider lifting of the containment zone tag of the complex in the next 48 hours,� he said. Rapid test will also be conducted at the city�s Aathgaon Kabarsthan Masjid containment zone in a day or two.
Meanwhile, the medical colleges and district hospitals will open for general patients from tomorrow. They were kept aside for COVID-19 treatment, and other patients redirected to private hospitals.
Rapid testing kits have been made available to the government hospitals.
�The doctors will conduct test on suspected patients, which will be helpful in clearing their doubts. In the recent past, doctors have been apprehensive of treating patients fearing COVID 19 infection,� the minister said.
In case a person who tested negative in the rapid kit shows symptoms later, RT-PCR test will be conducted for confirmation. People who show positive for COVID-19 in the rapid tests will also have to undergo the RT-PCR test for confirmation, sources said.
�ICMR says these test kits can be used for surveillance and that is what we are doing. We will have an idea of the spread of the virus,� the Health Minister said.
Sarma further informed that the quarantine period of the people who came in direct touch with the positive patients have been increased to 28 days.
�We have seen that people are getting infected even after 14 days. The patient in Dhubri who tested positive today had been in quarantine since April 5. So as per guidelines we have increased the quarantine period of the direct contacts,� he added.