The Health Protection Agency (HPA), on Wednesday, authorized Rapid Antigen Diagnostic Testing (Ag-RDT) in the Maldives, in addition to publicizing a list of guidelines concerning their usage.
According to the agency, rapid antigen testing will only be approved for individuals exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms in localities with confirmed community transmission, provided that not more than seven days have elapsed since symptom onset. It was highlighted that Ag-RDT was most efficient for samples collected in the early stages of infection, during which the viral load is typically at its highest level.
Registered health professionals will be permitted to conduct the tests at clinical facilities certified by the Ministry of Health.
Furthermore, test kits used under the aforementioned circumstances must be included in the World Health Organization (WHO)’s Emergency Use Listing or be authorised by the United States Food and Drug Administration.
In the event that the result of an antigen test proves positive, then it will be officially considered a valid result. However, negative results received from tests conducted after five days from symptom onset must be confirmed by further PCR test. Hospitals and health care centres are mandated to report the results of all Ag-RDT tests to the HPA.
However, the use of Ag-RDTs will not be permitted in circumstances or locations with a low expected prevalence, such as for screening conducted at points of entry and prior to medical procedures such as blood donation and elective surgery.
Although any use of antigen tests outside the set guidelines must be pre-approved by HPA, the agency will utilise Ag-RDT for outbreak investigation purposes such as detecting of positive cases among frontline workers operating amid local COVID-19 outbreaks and responding to suspected outbreaks in remote settings and semi-closed communities including care-homes, safaris, cruise ships, prisons, rehabilitation centres, factories and dormitories.
HPA revealed that the guidelines concerning Antigen Diagnostic Testing in the Maldives were formulated based on WHO recommendations and scientific evidence available at present.
The Maldives currently records a total of 10,656 virus cases of which 1,068 are active cases, in addition to 9,547 recoveries and 34 deaths.
In addition to the Greater Male’ Region, active virus cases are currently present in 21 inhabited islands as well as 19 resorts across the archipelago.
During last month, authorities tightened the safety measures implemented in the Greater Male’ region, following an alarming upsurge of COVID-19 cases after the state initiated efforts to steer the country towards a ‘new normal’ with the phased easing of lockdown restrictions.
After a long period of recording over 100 daily cases, the numbers have fallen to two-digits during the most part of September. Within this same period, the number of recoveries saw a significant increase, bringing the number of recovered cases to 89.5 per cent.
Despite the sustained decrease in virus cases, HPA has renewed calls for citizens to adhere to protective measures to contain the spread of the virus, cautioning against a public sentiment that the outbreak has been “controlled”.
On March 12, WHO classified the spread of COVID-19 as a global pandemic. To date, the new strain of novel coronavirus has infected over 36.4 million people and claimed over 1 million lives around the world. However, out of those infected, more than 27.4 million people have recovered.
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Source URL: Google News