To scale up testing in the capital, the Delhi government has increased working hours of 300 dispensaries across 11 districts by two hours. This is an extension of the Chief Minister’s plan to double the number of tests to 40,000 a day.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Health Minister Satyendar Jain said: “The 300 dispensaries will be operational for five hours now, that is, 9 am to 2 pm. The health centres will be offering RT-PCR and rapid antigen tests and the patient will be tested following the ICMR protocol.”
CM Arvind Kejriwal has sought more tests against the backdrop of an uptick in the number of cases. On Friday, the city recorded 1,808 cases and 20 deaths, taking the total number of confirmed cases to 1,69,412. The death toll is 4,389.
For more than 10 days now, the city has been recording over 1,000 cases a day, pushing the state government to again take aggressive measures. In the last 24 hours, the city performed 6,920 RT-PCR/CBNAAT/TrueNat and 16,013 rapid antigen tests. The total number of tests done so far stands at 15,26,655 — 80,350 tests per million population.
“Our main aim is to test, track, and isolate cases at the earliest. If we don’t follow an aggressive testing technique, all efforts taken so far will go in vain. In many instances, the entire family is later found to be positive only after a case has been reported from the same cluster. This happens because not all are coming forward to get themselves tested. It’s difficult to establish the link in all cases,” said Jain.
The increased testing has become a bone of contention between the Delhi government and the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), with Jain writing to Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla and alleging that officers in the state government are being “pressured” by the MHA not to increase testing.
The MHA spokesperson called the allegations “false and baseless” and said it was after the “intervention of the Union Home Minister that daily tests in Delhi, which were averaging around 4,000 per day till mid-June, have gone up to around 18-20,000 per day in a calibrated manner”.
According to sources, Principal Health Secretary Vikram Dev Dutt wrote to the MHA and NITI Aayog member Dr V K Paul to seek suggestions on the state government’s plan to increase the number of tests.
“In light of the current Covid-19 situation and trajectory of cases in Delhi, whether scaling up of testing numbers is to be done, and if so, to what extent. The opinion and guidance of the expert committee may be obtained as to what additional geographical areas and categories of demography are to be targeted if testing is to be scaled up,” wrote Dev in the note submitted to the MHA and Dr V K Paul.
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