The Union health ministry on Thursday directed all states and Union Territories to mandatorily retest all symptomatic negative coronavirus cases of rapid antigen tests through the RT-PCR or reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction testing method. The ministry noted that in certain “large states” symptomatic negative cases were not being followed up by the RT-PCR tests.

“The guidelines of ICMR as well as the Union health ministry clearly state that the following two specific categories of persons must necessarily be retested through RT-PCR tests: All symptomatic (fever or cough or breathlessness) negative cases of Rapid Antigen Tests,” the statement from the health ministry said. “Asymptomatic negative cases of RAT that develop symptoms within two to three days of being tested negative.”

The Union health ministry added that retesting all negative rapid antigen results was necessary to make sure that “such symptomatic negative cases do not remain untested and do not spread the disease among their contacts”. “This will also ensure early detection and isolation/hospitalisation of such false negatives,” the statement said. “It has also been reiterated in the joint letter that while the RAT is being used to increase access and availability of testing in the field, RT-PCR remains the gold standard of Covid tests.”

States and Union Territories were also urged to urgently establish a monitoring mechanism in every district and at the state level to follow up such cases. “These teams shall analyse details of RAT conducted on a daily basis in the districts and state and ensure that there are no delays in retesting of all symptomatic negative cases,” it read

Earlier in the day, India reported a record of 95,735 new coronavirus cases, taking its tally to over 44.65 lakh. The country recorded 1,172 deaths in 24 hours, taking the toll to 75,063. As many as 34,717,83 people have recovered from the infection. India’s recovery rate is currently 77.74%, while the mortality rate is 1.68%.

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