The Indian Council of Medical Research on Monday revised its testing strategy for the coronavirus to allow tests for asymptomatic, direct and high-risk contacts of confirmed cases. These contacts will be tested once between days five and 10 of coming into contact with the patient, instead of between day five and 14.

All symptomatic front line workers involved in “containment and mitigation” efforts against the pandemic will also be tested, ICMR said. In the previous set of guidelines issued on April 9, the top medical body had allowed tests for only symptomatic health care workers. The new guidelines also allow for tests for migrant labourers and other people who have returned to their hometowns.

The Centre had on May 1 allowed interstate travel on over 300 “Shramik Special” trains, and migrant workers began returning home amid the nationwide lockdown.

Migrants and other returnees with symptoms of influenza-like illness – who were not included in ICMR’s previous testing strategy – will now be tested within seven days of illness. The new guidelines also allow testing of all hospitalised patients with symptoms of influenza-like illness. The top medical body also specified that no emergency medical procedures, including deliveries, should be delayed for lack of tests.

ICMR’s testing strategy so far had included six categories of people – symptomatic individuals who undertook international travel within the last 14 days, symptomatic contacts of laboratory confirmed cases, symptomatic healthcare workers, patients with acute respiratory illness, asymptomatic direct and high-risk contacts of confirmed cases and symptomatic people in hotspots or clusters. The top medical body has tested 23,02,792 samples for the coronavirus so far.

The number of coronavirus cases in India rose to 96,169 on Monday morning and the toll went up to 3,029.

The nationwide lockdown to control the spread of the coronavirus has been extended till May 31, but with major relaxations outside containment zones. According to the new guidelines, states and Union Territories will be able to determine the containment, buffer, red, orange and green zones.

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