Delhi’s Covid death rate reached 4.11% on Tuesday, as 437 new deaths were added to the capital’s tally, taking the toll to 1,837. The national death rate on Tuesday stood at 2.88%. Of the 437 deaths added to the toll, 93 were reported in the last 24 hours. Delhi saw 1,859 fresh cases on Tuesday with the total count at 44,688.
The Centre, meanwhile, gave Delhi the nod to conduct rapid antigen detection tests. The ICMR chief Balram Bhargava had written to the centre earlier on the matter. In the letter, Bhargava, Director-General, ICMR, said ICMR had negotiated the price of the kit. “The upper price cap negotiated by the committee is Rs 450. As per decision taken in today’s meeting Delhi may deploy this test immediately in the containment zones at the earliest,” Prof Bhargava wrote. As per discussions in a review meeting Sunday, Union Home Minister Amit Shah said testing would double by Tuesday and triple by June 20. Till last week, Delhi had the capacity to test 8,600 samples per day. As per figures in Delhi’s daily bulletin, 7,786 were conducted in the last 24 hours, taking cumulative tests to 3,04,483.
To enhance the testing capacity in Delhi, all 11 districts have been assigned labs for exclusively testing samples from the respective districts. “We have already augmented our testing capacity by adding the TRUENAT and CB NAAT testing. We are also adding to the capacity by utilising antigen testing which has been approved by ICMR. We are in talks with the company to provide at least 5,000-10,000 kits,” Dr DK Sharma, medical superintendent of AIIMS, told The Indian Express.
The Real-Time PCR (RT-PCR) requires specialised lab facilities and take at least 2-5 hours including the time and effort to transport the sample to these high-end labs. The TRUENAT and CB NAAT being portable can be and are being used in remote areas. The Standard Q COVID-19 Ag detection kit takes 15 minutes to show results and can be conducted at the site of sample collection in a healthcare facility setting within one hour of sample collection. “We are waiting for the government to give us a green signal for starting the antibody testing. Once permission is granted, the testing capacity can go up by 1,000 samples a day,” said a private lab owner. The Delhi government’s Lok Nayak hospital which was earlier testing 300 samples in a day has increased the testing capacity to 400 samples per day.
Bhargava, in his letter, wrote: “Since the gold standard RT-PCR test has essential requirements in terms of biosafety and biosecurity as well as specialised equipment ICMR had been exploring alternate, quick and reliable options for diagnosis of COVID-19…, ICMR and AIIMS, Delhi independently evaluated the stand-alone rapid point-of-care antigen detection assay for quick detection of SARS-CoV2 developed by SD Biosensor”.
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