CM Pinarayi Vijayan said the tests will be conducted among health workers, police, home delivery volunteers, and guest workers since these are the sections in contact with large numbers of people.
Kerala is inviting bids from manufacturers, authorised distributors and direct importers for a supply of two lakh antibody-based testing kits through the state-owned Kerala Medical Services Corporation, The New Indian Express reported.
ICMR had on Wednesday said the rapid testing kits distributed to states could be used for surveillance and monitoring trends. A day earlier the medical body had told states to stop using the kits procured from China after complaints that they were faulty.
ICMR has insisted that only RT-PCR (reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction) tests can confirm diagnosis of Covid-19.
As of Thursday, Kerala had tested 21,334 samples of which 20,326 had returned negative. The state has reported 447 confirmed Covid-19 cases of which 129 patients are currently under treatment.
The state, which many deemed to have flattened the curve, reported an increase in infections this week with 19 new patients confirmed on Tuesday, 11 on Wednesday and ten on Thursday.
A four-month-old baby, who had tested positive for COVID-19 and suffering from congenital heart disease, died on Friday after suffering a cardiac arrest.
This was the third COVID-19 death and the first infant fatality in the state.
Meanwhile, Kerala continues to see a decline in number of people under observation from over 46,300 at the beginning of this week to around 23,800 on Thursday.
Bringing back bodies
Pinarayi on Friday wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking his intervention in bringing bodies of Keralites who died in the Gulf countries due to non-COVID-19 reasons to the state without any delay for performing last rites in their home towns.
In a letter, he wanted Modi to direct Indian embassies to issue necessary clearances without seeking individual approvals from the Ministry of Home Affairs.
The embassies are insisting on production of no-objection certificate from the Union Ministry of Home Affairs, Pinarayi said in the letter. The Centre had already agreed that in case the deaths are not COVID related, such certificates are not necessary.
The bodies are now being brought in the cargo planes as passenger flights are not being operated due to the lockdown.