Govt starts rapid antigen testing to contain virus spread

Published On: November 30, 2020 02:03 PM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

KATHMANDU, Nov 30: In a bid to curb the spread of Covid-19 from hotspots, the government has started rapid antigen testing in several hotspots of the Kathmandu Valley from Monday.

The Epidemiology and Disease Control Division (EDCD) has started antigen testing in Kathmandu Metropolitan City and claimed the new method of testing is more “sensitive” than the traditional PCR method.

According to Dr Basudev Pandey, director at the EDCD, the new method provides COVID-19 results within half an hour. “In the first phase, the EDCD has started testing in KMC. This method will be introduced throughout the country in the second phase,” he said.

On Monday, the EDCD is performing antigen tests on 500 people in hotspots of the metropolis. “The test won’t be performed randomly. The test has been carried out in presence of the representatives from the municipality, and those who are part of the contact tracing process will be tested,” he said.

The number of testing through antigen methods will be increased to almost 2,500 within a few days, according to EDCD.

The antigen test is launched free of cost with the support of the World Health Organization (WHO), and the government is planning to expand testing to other parts of the country after analyzing the effectiveness in the Valley.

“This new method gives results within 15-30 minutes. This method can turn out to be effective to control the virus spread in hotspots like Kathmandu Valley,” said Pandey.

“The method requires a swab sample, which is placed in a kit for testing. The antigen testing is affordable and cheaper than the PCR method,” Pandey said.

According to a virologist Dr Sher Bahadur Pun, the method is helpful to conduct mass testing, but its effectiveness is a question. “The method is easy and cheaper than the PCR testing, and is helpful to conduct testing in borders, crowded places, among others,” said Pun.


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