The Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR), the government body at the top of the CoVid-19 response in India and collecting all the data wrt CoVid-19, issued a new advisory on Covid-19 testing during the second wave of the pandemic in India.
In this short note, which you can read here, the ICMR recommended that
The need for RT-PCR testing in healthy individuals undertaking inter-state domestic travel may be completely reduced to reduce the loads on laboratories.
This move made by ICMR does not go down very well with me for many reasons. Each state is demanding a test from passengers who arrive in the state is to try and ensure that they are not getting in infected passengers and hence an increase in the pool of cases in the state. We already know how quickly the new variant is spreading in various parts of India. From personal experience and those of many around me, once it enters a home, mostly everyone in the household is infected. Unfortunately, the new variant leaves many people asymptomatic. This would mean they would become “healthy” in the categorisation of ICMR and then take the virus from one place to another. This ICMR recommendation, if accepted, will mean no land/air/train travel will need tests for healthy people.
While I agree that a 48/72/96 hour-old report may or may not be entirely correct, until we move to more real-time testing pre-boarding, such as maybe a COVID-19 Antigen test before boarding and immediate results (30 minutes out), this seems to be the only surrogate. The other way is to test on arrival, but testing is the only way out until a passenger is vaccinated.
The common refrain from the travel community could be that people cannot travel these days because they are not getting their reports in time. Unfortunately, travel needs to be way down on the priorities unless necessary, and the backlog of reports is indeed one reason many people are not travelling at the moment. So, if people don’t test for travel, they automatically get out of the load on the system.
Unfortunately, if this does get picked up, I’d still recommend one gets an RT-PCR test done before travel to ensure you are “healthy” enough to travel.
What are your views on the ICMR advisory for testing before travel? Is this the correct approach?
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