Guidelines for private sector on carrying out Rapid Antigen Tests

Guidelines for private sector on carrying out Rapid Antigen Tests

December 1, 2020   09:51 pm

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The Ministry of Health today (01) issued guidelines for private sector institutions with regard to carrying out Rapid Antigen Tests to diagnose Covid-19 positive cases.

As per the guidelines, the private sector institutions will also be permitted to perform the Rapid Antigen Tests.

Since the onset of the pandemic outbreak, the World Health Organization had been urging more and more tests for Covid-19 in order to contain the transmission, however, many nations were struggling to offer adequate testing as the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests remained an expensive diagnostic.

WHO recently included Rapid Antigen Testing in its Emergency Use Listing (EUL), authorizing two manufacturers – SD Biosensor, Inc and Abbot Rapid Diagnostics Jena GmbH.

The Rapid Antigen Test is much simpler and faster to perform than the currently-recommended nucleic acid amplification tests (NAAT), like PCR and these tests provide results in 15–30 minutes and enable expansion of testing, particularly in countries that do not have extensive laboratory facilities or trained health workers to implement molecular tests, the WHO said.

Thereby, Sri Lanka, deciding to adopt the new testing method, imported several consignments of Rapid Antigen Test kits, approved by the world health body, after receiving the nod from National Medicines Regulatory Authority (NMRA).

The WHO also donated a consignment of 100,000 Rapid Antigen Test kits to the island nation.

The government initially rolled out the new test kits in government hospitals, however, the private sector institutions have now been authorized to carry out Rapid Antigen Tests, to help the country’s combat against Covid-19.

The guidelines mention that:

• All employees should undergo mandatory Covid-19 symptom screening daily at the entrance of the workplace. In addition to checking the temperature.

• Any employee identified with symptoms suspicious of Covid-19 at the screening should be subjected to Rapid Antigen Test.

• A name list of employees undergoing this test and the test result must be submitted to the Epidemiology Unit (chiefepid@health.gov.lk), Regional Epidemiologist in the district and the area MOH on a daily basis.

• If the Rapid Antigen Test is positive, the Epidemiology Unit, area MOH and Regional Epidemiologist must be informed and the treatment protocol should be initiated.

• If the Rapid Antigen Test is negative, the employee should be subjected to PCR testing and should not involve in duties until results are available.

• If the PCR test is positive, the notification process (informing the Epidemiology Unit, Regional Epidemiologist and the area MOH) must be followed and the treatment protocol should be initiated.

• If the test result is negative, the employee should remain at the place of residence until the episode is settled.

• However, if the symptoms are worsening, the employee must be advised to inform the appointed focal point at the enterprise. The focal point should inform the area MOH for necessary action.

• The contacts of a Covid-19 positive employee at the workplace can be referred to Rapid Antigen Tests.

• The factories under the purview of the Board of Investment (BOI) and the Export Development Board (EDB) are instructed to conduct PCR tests as per health recommendations. However, if a factory is located in a high-risk area for Covid-19, 10 per cent of its employees can be directed to Rapid Antigen Tests.

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