New Delhi: The government is thinking of expanding the testing protocol for Covid-19 infections to include all symptomatic cases, a senior government official said, as it looks to widen the scope of tests due to the increasing number of positive cases in the last few days.

At present, all patients with pneumonia or severe acute respiratory distress (SARI), and close contacts of Covid-19 positive patients are tested.

An empowered group that had been set up to look at the testing protocol met on Tuesday and deliberated upon the need to extend testing to all symptomatic people. “The empowered committee…reviewed the testing protocol. It has yet to take a decision on all symptomatic cases but it is under consideration,” the official said.

He clarified that India did not intend to go in for “mass testing” as was done in South Korea.

“The group is actively looking at testing protocols, strategy for identifying hotspots and clusters and how to augment testing resources,” the official said on condition of anonymity. On March 21, India expanded its testing protocol to cover more people. Public health experts have repeatedly called for scaling up of tests.

As per the current protocol, all asymptomatic patients who had undertaken international travel should be home quarantined for 14 days and should be tested only if they become symptomatic with fever, cough or difficulty in breathing.

If the test is positive, they should be isolated and treated as per the protocol.

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