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Saturday, October 31, 2020

Delhi HC asks state govt: Why are you wasting testing capacity?

The Delhi government meanwhile sought more time to apprise the court about the Covid-19 Expert Committee’s decision on ramping up RT-PCR testing in the capital.

Written by Sofi Ahsan | New Delhi | Updated: October 1, 2020 9:14:43 am
Delhi coronaviirus latest updates, Delhi Covid-19, Delhi covid-19 testing, Delhi coronavirus testing capacity, Delhi high court, delhi city newsAt a testing centre in New Delhi.

The Delhi High Court Wednesday said the rate of testing for coronavirus through RT-PCR in Delhi continues to remain “abysmally low” as compared to the testing being conducted through the Rapid Antigen Test (RAT). The Delhi government meanwhile sought more time to apprise the court about the Covid-19 Expert Committee’s decision on ramping up RT-PCR testing in the capital.

The division bench of Justices Hima Kohli and Subramonium Prasad observed that the highest RT-PCR and other similar testing methods used by the state between September 14 and September 27 on a single day was 11,417 on September 26. The court added the numbers are witnessing a change each day and that testing through RT-PCR plummeted to 7,672 on September 27.

“Why are you wasting your testing capacity,” the court observed, adding that RT-PCR testing figures are “pathetic” when compared with RATs, which are taking place more than 45,000 on an average each day. The court noted in its order that “much emphasis has been constantly laid” by it about ramping up the RT-PCR testing, but “it appears the same has been of no avail”.

The court also said the capacity of around 14,000 RT-PCR tests was being “frittered away” in Delhi. “…which cannot make any sense when the cases of Covid-19 infection in same period between September 14-27 remains in the range of 3,000-4000 except for September 20 when 2,548 positive cases were reported,” said the court.

Additional Solicitor General Sanjay Jain informed the court that the Expert Committee is looking into parameters of RT-PCR testing and whether they need to be changed. “We have been doing RT-PCR as per the protocol. The cases which required RT-PCR … it has been conducted in those cases. In some cases, people prefer the shorter route of RAT,” submitted Jain.

Jain also submitted that the numbers are fluctuating in the capital and “no typical trend” was emerging. “This is likely to settle down in 10 days or so. We will have a little better picture,” he submitted, adding that people from neighbouring cities and other states were coming to Delhi in large numbers and occupying private hospitals to the extent of 32-33%.

Delhi’s Additional Standing Counsel Satyakam submitted before the court the Expert Committee met on September 28 and is deliberating about parameters pertaining to RT-PCR testing, contact tracing and areas which need to be focused on more. The court was told their report will come in 7-10 days and two weeks are required to apprise the court about the decision.

The government also told the court that the Expert Committee in its decision on overall Covid testing strategy will also take a decision with regard to providing access to testing through Mohalla Clinics and Community Centres.

The court was also informed in a status report that Geospatial Delhi Limited has prepared a map of 320 testing sites and the same has been shared with Delhi Metro Rail Corporation for placing it at prominent locations at major Metro stations for public information.

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