In a key decision on Wednesday, the Centre has capped testing for Covid-19 at Rs 2,400 for Delhi. The test used to earlier cost Rs 4,500. The decision was taken based on a report submitted by a committee, headed by NITI Aayog member Dr V K Paul.
The Ministry of Home Affairs Wednesday said in a statement: “As per the directives of Home Minister Amit Shah in providing relief to the common man, the high-level expert committee’s report on Covid-19 testing rates received by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has been further sent to Delhi government for necessary action. It has been decided to fix the rate at Rs 2,400.”
While some labs are waiting for a detailed order on the capping, others have expressed their agreement. Dr D S Rana, chairman of board, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, said: “As per the prevailing current conditions, the price of Rs 2,400 is quite feasible. Based on our calculations, we would have recommended the same price.” Another owner of a private lab said: “We are waiting for a detailed order from the Ministry. It looks a little tough right now.”
On Wednesday, Delhi saw 2,414 new cases, taking the total cases to 47,102. In the last 24 hours, 67 more people succumbed to the virus. The death toll is now 1,904 and the city’s fatality rate is at 4%, much higher than the national average of 3.36%. The city has performed 8,093 tests in the last 24 hours, and a total of 3,12,576 tests have been carried so far.
The MHA also announced that beginning June 18, tests will be done via new Rapid Antigen methodology approved by ICMR. This costs Rs 450 and gives a result within half an hour. “Delhi would be given priority for these kits. As many as 169 centres have also been set up,” it said.
It claimed that as decided in Sunday’s meeting between the Home Minister and Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal, testing capacity has been doubled. As per the MHA, 16,618 samples were collected on June 15 and 16 (till June 14, daily collection varied between 4,000-4,500). It added that 6,510 reports were received and the rest expected by June 18.
In a meeting of the Southwest district administration, a decision was taken to conduct at least 1,000 tests a day, including of each person at containment zones. DM Rahul Singh said they will be receiving rapid antigen test kits soon, which will help increase the number of tests.
Samples will also be collected at all government-run dispensaries across the district. As many as 44 medical officers, who will be single-point contact for all Covid-related queries, have been asked to be “liberal in their approach” and recommend a test to anyone with flu-like symptoms.
During the Sunday meeting, the MHA also announced that a house-to-house health survey would be done in containment zones to improve contact mapping. On Wednesday, it said that in two days, more than 75% of people in the 242 containment zones had been surveyed. “Out of total population of 2,30,466 in 242 containment zones, survey of 1,77,692 people was conducted between June 15-16. Remaining will be covered by June 20,” it said.
At the meeting, a proposal to ensure private hospitals provide 60% of their Covid beds at low rates was also discussed. The panel was to submit a report on the same Monday. MHA did not confirm if it has been submitted.
(inputs from Sourav Roy Barman)
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