The Lieutenant Governor of Delhi, Anil Baijal, has asked the Delhi government to explore the possibility of setting up a helpline where people can call and book appointments for tests so that more people are encouraged to come forward.
Sources said the suggestion was made while discussing ways to increase testing in the city, as the number of new cases are on the rise. Last week, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had said that the government had set a target of 40,000 tests per day, up from an average of around 20,000 per day. The number has since been increasing slowly and on Wednesday, 28,000 tests were conducted.
The suggestion was made at a meeting the L-G held with Kejriwal, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, Health Minister Satyendar Jain, NITI Aayog member Dr V K Paul, AIIMS director Dr Randeep Guleria and Delhi Chief Secretary Vijay Dev.
Sources said that among the first few people who will be able to book tests will be vulnerable groups such as senior citizens or those with comorbid conditions. A senior government official said the viability of the suggestion will be discussed by officials.
Dr Guleria, who is also part of the Centre’s committee on Covid, said that testing must be followed by isolation and contact tracing to contain the spread.
“Testing is the backbone of the strategy we have adopted. So, we must have a plan in place where testing is followed by tracking, contact tracing and isolation of those who are positive, or quarantine those who are close contacts so that the chain of spread is broken. If you are going to do more and more tests, you must have a mechanism in place where you will also do very aggressive contact tracing and isolating of the cases and closed contacts. Otherwise, testing alone will do nothing,” he said.
The L-G, meanwhile, has also directed Delhi government officials to ensure testing facilities are set up in large construction sites and border areas, along with Inter-state Bus Terminals and railway stations and that as many people coming from outside Delhi are tested as possible.
Sources said the increase in cases — 2,509 cases and 19 deaths were seen on Wednesday — was discussed in the meeting. The compounded daily growth rate over the past week has risen to 1.15 per cent as against 0.69 per cent in mid-August.
“Active cases have suddenly increased in the city. We had fallen below the 10,000 mark in the first week of August but the recovery rate has since dipped from a little over 90% to 88% now. A total of around 6,000 active cases have been added on the whole in August alone,” said a senior official.
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