FAQ: Can I Get Myself Tested For COVID-19 Without a Prescription?

The medical body has also outlined measures to prioritise methods of testing in its advisory.

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FAQ
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Medics prepare to collect samples for swab tests from a COVID-19 mobile testing van. Image used for representation.
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A new advisory released by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) on Saturday, 5 September, recommends that all people living in containment zones should be tested using rapid antigen testing (RAT) kits, especially in cities severely affected by the coronavirus outbreak.

The medical body has also added that state governments should allow “testing on demand.”

So, who can get tested for COVID-19 in India now? Here’s what the guidelines say.

Who can get tested for COVID-19 in India?

The ICMR has revised its testing advisory saying that state governments should allow "testing on demand" for all individuals. This means that the person does not have to be symptomatic or be a primary contact of an infected person to get tested.

The guidelines also state the 100 percent population in containment zones should be tested using RAT kits.

Do I still need a doctor’s prescription to get tested?

A doctor’s prescription will no longer be required to get a COVID-19 test, the ICMR has said.

This makes testing easier for those individuals who are travelling to other countries or within India, where a negative COVID-19 test has been made mandatory for entry.

But, don’t state governments have their own criteria for testing? What changes now?

While state governments have their own criteria, they cannot resort to restrictive requirements on testing. These restrictions will now be removed.

What happens if a symptomatic person tests negative on an antigen test?

According to the new guidelines, if a symptomatic person tests negative on an antigen test, they should follow it with a RT-PCR test.

Who else should opt for molecular tests like RT-PCR?

Patients with:

  • Acute respiratory infections
  • Influenza-like symptoms
  • High-risk contacts in need of hospitalisation
  • Asymptomatic patients undergoing surgery

The guidelines also specifically state that no emergency procedure should be delayed for the want of COVID-19 test.

What about pregnant women? Do they need a COVID-19 test before they are admitted to a hospital?

Hospitals have been asked not to refuse admission to pregnant women, citing lack of testing facility.

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