Testing must for those negative on antigen test in Delhi: Harsh Vardhan
Amid surge in coronavirus cases in Delhi, union health minister Harsh Vardhan on Thursday asked the state government to ensure mandatory testing for all those who develop symptoms after testing negative on a rapid antigen test.
Despite an increase in the number of the more accurate RT-PCR test, Delhi continues to have a skewed ratio of almost 77% of all tests being conducted using rapid antigen tests.
The rapid antigen tests are cheaper, easier to deploy in clinics and dispensaries, and can give results within 15 minutes. However, instead of amplifying the genetic material as in the RT PCR test, it just detects certain proteins in the sample. This leads to the test throwing up false negatives if the viral load is not high or the sample is not collected properly.
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“Delhi continues to have a highly skewed RAT to RT-PCR ratio -- 77% of the tests are RAT based while RT-PCR comprises only 23% of the total tests. The false negative results might give way to complacency among the Covid infected, hence mandatory testing of all RAT negative persons if they develop influenza-like or acute respiratory symptoms afterwards,” said Harsh Vardhan during a review meeting of the Covid situation in Delhi.
The city reported 6,842 new cases of Covid-19 in a single day on Wednesday, with the number of active cases or those with a current infection hitting a high of over 37,000.
The minister asked the state government to focus on six districts - North, Central, North East, East, North West and South East - districts with high positivity rate.
“There are six districts in Delhi where the positivity rate is between 12 and 14%. Ideally, this should be less than 5%. There is a need to increase testing and surveillance in these areas. Delhi is a cause of concern; It is the capital and hence there are more activities that happen here. At 1.71%, the fatality (case fatality ratio; the proportion of deaths among total tested positive) rate in Delhi is more than the national average of 1.49%. The recovery rate of Delhi is 86%, lower than the national average of 92%,” the minister said.
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At the meeting, the Delhi health minister Satyendar Jain urged that the Centre increase the number of ICU beds in AIIMS and the other central government-run hospitals. He was informed by the union health secretary Rajesh Bhushan that the makeshift facility developed by the army at Dhaula Kuan has a facility for 125 ICU beds that can be utilised.
The number of hospitalisations in the city has also gone up. Over 72% of all the ICU beds, earmarked for the treatment of Covid-19, were occupied as on Thursday morning, according to the ‘Delhi Corona’ app.