Increase number of RT-PCR tests: Delhi High Court to Govt
A bench comprising justices Hima Kohli and Subramonium Prasad also asked the Delhi government to provide maps of all community centres and mohalla clinics where testing would be conducted after it told the court that Geospatial Delhi Limited (GSDL) would map test centres in the city.Updated: Sep 17, 2020 01:49 IST
The Delhi High Court on Wednesday asked a committee appointed by the lieutenant-governor (L-G) of Delhi to immediately convene a meeting “on priority” to chalk out a strategy for increasing the number of RT-PCR tests in the national capital, saying that the rapid antigen test (RATs) was only 60% accurate.
A bench comprising justices Hima Kohli and Subramonium Prasad also asked the Delhi government to provide maps of all community centres and mohalla clinics where testing would be conducted after it told the court that Geospatial Delhi Limited (GSDL) would map test centres in the city.
The court said the Delhi government should ensure that while getting the mapping done, the density of the population in a particular district and the number of containment zones in a district are taken into consideration. And wherever there is a distance between the testing facilities, the dots should be connected with the help of mohalla clinics and community centres, it said.
“A requisite number of mohalla clinics and community centres shall be identified in each district and included in the mapping being undertaken by Geospatial Delhi Limited,” the court said.
“The Delhi government will implement the orders of the Hon’ble High Court,” a media advisor to the chief minister said.
The court was hearing a plea filed by advocate Rakesh Malhotra, who wanted tests in the city to be scaled up. On the last date of the hearing, the court did away with the provision of asymptomatic persons having to produce a prescription for Covid-19 tests. The bench had also asked the government to put up maps of testing centres at Metro stations.
On Wednesday, the bench expressed its displeasure over the low number of RT-PCR tests conducted between September 8 and September 15, compared to the number of rapid antigen tests. The bench said RT/PCR testing was less than one-fourth of the total number of tests and the rest was done by the rapid antigen process.
It asked advocate Satyakam, the Delhi government’s additional standing counsel, as to why the rapid antigen tests were still being conducted when their accuracy is about 60%. It said that more RT-PCR tests should be conducted because they are more accurate.
“Having regard to the fact that the results of tests conducted through RAT are accurate only to the extent of 60% thus leaving a great doubt about infection being carried by those persons who are asymptomatic, we are of the firm view that RT-PCR should be the way forward,” the court said.
The bench said an expert committee constituted by the L-G should immediately decide on testing more people via the RT-PCR method to get accurate results. It asked the committee to file a report and posted the matter till September 30.
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Directorate general of health services Nutan Mundeja told the court that they had started mobile testing facilities at a few metro stations. In an affidavit, the government also told the court that 79 mobile teams are active in the city. It said testing facilities have been set up all over Delhi and DMRC is displaying their details to enable commuters to access testing sites closest to their point of exit and entry.