In a crucial step towards curbing the spread of COVID-19 , the Delhi government has kicked off community testing in high-risk areas to ensure there is no community spread. Health officials in each district are taking samples of people from the 66 containment zones, those in quarantine, contacts of patients and those admitted in hospitals. So far, 2,983 samples have been collected from the containment zones.
On Friday, Delhi reported 67 cases and four deaths. The total number of cases is now 1,707 and the death toll is at 42. Among the victims are two women aged 60 and a 50-year-old man admitted to RML Hospital and a 52-year-old woman admitted to Manipal hospital. They had co-morbidities such as diabetes and hypertension, said officials.
Teams including health department officials, district surveillance officers, ASHA workers and lab technicians are visiting the areas to collect nasopharyngeal and oropharyngeal samples from suspected symptomatic and asymptomatic cases. They also visited hospitals to collect samples. “These will be sent to designated labs for rRT-PCR testing. The idea is to increase testing in the community. If we test more, we’ll have more clarity about cases in the city,” said a senior health official.
Sources said testing is divided on the basis of high-priority contacts, which include immediate family members, friends, neighbours and colleagues; and low-priority contacts such as people who have indirectly come in contact with a person who has tested positive. The health department has also decided to provide an incentive of Rs 100 per sample collected. “As these officers are exposed to the greatest danger, we have decided to incentivise them. The incentive per team would be worked out in such a way that those exposed to maximum danger will be given double of the total share,” said an official, adding that funds are available for COVID-19 activities under the National Health Mission.
In each district, the government has linked a hospital with COVID-19 isolation centres such as hotels and quarantine facilities and testing centres. A lab technician will be at all centres to collect samples between 8 am and 4 pm. The Union Health Ministry has also promised 50,000 antibody testing kits to Delhi.
Seventy-two people have recovered so far, with 21 being discharged Friday. For the second day in a row, no patient connected to the Nizammudin gathering has tested positive. Of the new cases, 11 have a contact history and 56 are under investigation.
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