Fully Vaccinated Still Need RT-PCR -ve Report For Non-Covid
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Even if you are fully vaccinated for more than two weeks and need hospitalization for non-Covid treatment, an RT-PCR negative report is compulsory at most of the private and government hospitals. Exemption from taking the Covid test too is given but only after following a rigorous screening. Emergency cases are isolated at bigger hospitals till the RT-PCR report is pending. Smaller ones don’t have the option other than asking patients to wait for the test result.

Some big hospitals are performing rapid antigen test (RAT) especially for those turning up with fever and at the same time facilitating swab collection. Patients have to do it on their own at many other hospitals. Recently, some fully vaccinated patients were asked to wait for admission till they bring an RT-PCR negative.

Dr Tushar Gawad, director (administration), Alexis Multispeciality Hospital, said, “Screening for symptoms and other relevant history is done for all patients. After screening by the clinicians, those who are fully vaccinated (14 days after 2nd dose) and asymptomatic patients are being exempted from RT-PCR testing for Covid-19. With regards to interventions, we do RAT for minor surgeries and day care procedures, while for major surgeries and procedures we do RT-PCR test.”

Dr Harshvardhan Bora, internal medicine and critical care expert at Kingsway Hospital, said it depends on hospital policy. “Each hospital has its own. Some are flexible based on screening. But if patients complain of coughing and breathlessness, then a Covid test becomes necessary. If a patient is Covid-infected, it becomes a risk for fellow patients,” he said.

Vidarbha Hospital Association (VHA) convenor Dr Anup Marar said as a safety measure, all hospitals do segregate the incoming patients and undertake RT-PCR tests before mixing them with admitted patients. “This prevents inadvertent exposure. Vaccination does not prevent infection but will only help reduce mortality. Fully vaccinated can also get Covid-19 and must be RT-PCR positive,” he said.

Dr Marar added, “Red flag of 3rd wave will be raised when hospitals and laboratories suddenly observe a surge of increased positivity rate among the tested. Hence, if hospitals become careless and stop practice of RT-PCR screening of fresh incoming patients, it will surely backfire and will not give chance to control the outbreak. All healthcare workers should follow universal safety guidelines while dealing with any patient.”