Rapid tests begin at Delhi govt dispensaries
Testing in the centres is likely to begin next week. Any resident can walk in for a Covid-19 test, and will require no documents or prescriptions.Updated: Jul 11, 2020 01:00 IST
In a bid to bring more residents of the Capital under the testing net to check for the coronavirus disease (Covid-19), the Delhi government on Thursday directed all its dispensaries and polyclinics to start rapid antigen testing and extend quick point-of-care testing to those living outside the 633 containment zones.
Testing in the centres is likely to begin next week. Any resident can walk in for a Covid-19 test, and will require no documents or prescriptions.
“We need to upload the data on an app that asks for valid phone numbers, so that’s all we ask for. We check whether the number is working right at the centre itself,” said a Delhi government official who asked not to be named.
These will be in addition to at least 160 centres set up by the government to test those inside or in the vicinity of containment zones.
“Our instructions were to increase the number of tests and testing centres from day one. The resident welfare organisations had also said centres closer to people’s homes would encourage them to get tested,” said a district official, on the condition of anonymity.
The test kits need to be stored at below 30°C. As a result, over the next few days, dispensaries that did not have air-conditioning systems will get them, the Delhi government official quoted above said.
The official said although several of the testing centres were initially started in schools, the government is trying to move away from them. “Schools are likely to reopen in some time, so the centres will have to be closed. These tests do not require any elaborate facility or bio-safety arrangements, and can be performed in a small room. We are in talks with several RWAs to just get small air-conditioned rooms close to societies where people can come and get tested. In some places, we are roping in mohalla clinics as well,” another district official said.
Delhi has about 200 dispensaries and 25 polyclinics. There are around 450 mohalla clinics in the city.
Outside containment zones, dispensaries and polyclinics will test those with influenza-like symptoms such as fever, cough, and sore throat. Those who have come in contact with confirmed Covid-19 patients will be tested.
“The priority is to test those with symptoms and who have come in contact with other cases, or have co-morbid conditions such as diabetes and hypertension. However, we have asked our staff not to refuse anyone who comes to the centre even if they have a mild suspicion. Earlier, when there were limited RT-PCR test kits, we had to refuse people. Now, we can test more people,” a third district official said.
Two of the three dispensaries HT spoke to said they already had enough kits, but that a staff shortage was preventing testing from being scaled up.
“We already have the kits because they are distributed from here to testing centres. However, our lab technicians are currently posted at these centres, so we do not know how to start testing here,” said a doctor from a dispensary in east Delhi.
A doctor from a dispensary in south district said, “We have received notification about testing at the dispensaries, but there aren’t any detailed guidelines yet. The guidelines are likely to come in by Monday. We already have the kits with us as soon as we get some of our trained staff back or someone is posted we can start testing here.”