Shillong: The Meghalaya Government has issued a new standard operating procedures (SOPs), making it mandatory to produce a negative RT-PCR Report or undergo a mandatory RT-PCR test at the entry points, amid concern over the Omicron variant of the coronavirus, health officials said.
“Testing at entry points will be continued even for those who have been fully vaccinated for a limited period during the surge of cases and until further orders,” Principal Secretary Health and Family Welfare, P Sampath Kumar said.
“The entrants producing a Negative RT-PCR Report should have been tested at a recognized laboratory within 72 hours of their arrival at the entry point,” the new SOP specified.
However, children below the age of 15 years shall be exempted from testing at entry points, if asymptomatic. Kumar said persons tested at the COVID Screening Centres must isolate themselves at their home or place of stay till the receipt of the test reports.
In the new SOP, COVID Testing should be done only if the patient is symptomatic. “Asymptomatic patients are to be exempted from COVID testing unless it is recommended by the treating doctors. This is to facilitate better health-seeking behaviour for all other medical conditions besides COVID,” Kumar explained.
However, children below the age of 15 years will be exempted from testing, if asymptomatic, but elderly and co-morbid individuals will be given special attention if symptomatic and tested positive.
Kumar also reiterated that early testing and treatment are of utmost importance considering the biphasic nature of COVID-19 Delta variant infection.
The new protocol also stated that COVID positive patients need to undergo Isolation for seven days since the day they are tested positive and the patient should not experience any fever or other symptoms for at least 3 consecutive days before the discharge.
“All positive cases must self-monitor their health during the isolation period and reach out for immediate medical help if they experience severe symptoms such as breathlessness,” Kumar said.
However, unvaccinated persons (who are more vulnerable) under quarantine or isolation sees no improvement after five days, need to seek medical help immediately, the health official said.
“All asymptomatic patients and High-Risk contacts to quarantine or isolate for five days. They strictly need to continue to wear a mask around others for five additional days,” the new protocol specified, adding that those who complete their quarantine or isolation may not need any discharge certificate if the isolation was at home.
Moreover, the department has also urged eligible persons to take the jab of the COVID-19 vaccine.
“All eligible individuals should take the vaccine, as proven evidence shows that the severity of COVID infection is significantly reduced even if infected,” Kumar said.
“Children between the age group of 15 to 17, should be vaccinated at the earliest,” the SOP reiterated, adding that healthcare workers, frontline workers and others who have completed 9 months, i.e 39 weeks from the date of administration of the 2nd dose need to be prioritised to receive their precautionary dose immediately.