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Increase RT-PCR testing capacity as COVID-19 cases shoot up

The Delhi High Court on Wednesday suggested that the AAP government increase the RT-PCR test capacity to the maximum possible to detect COVID-19 infection, as Rapid Antigen Tests (RATs) were only 60% accurate.

The High Court asked an expert committee, set by the Lieutenant Governor, to convene a meeting on priority basis to consider the extent to which capacity of testing by RT-PCR should be ramped up. At present, the sanctioned strength of conducting RT-PCR is 14,000 per day in Delhi.

The High Court expressed concern over continuous rise in COVID-19 cases, with nearly 4,500 new infections reported on Tuesday.

“Having regard to the fact that results of RAT are 60% accurate, leaving grave doubt about infection in those who are asymptomatic, we are of the firm view that RT-PCR should be the way forward,” said a Bench of Justice Hima Kohli and Subramonium Prasad.

The court directed the Delhi government to file a status report along with a report of the committee in this regard and listed the matter for further hearing on September 30.

The Bench also noted that in the week from September 8 to 15, the testing done through RT-PCR was less than one fourth of the total number of tests and rest was done by the RAT process.

It asked the Delhi government to place on record before the next date of hearing, the results of the third sero-survey conducted by it in September along with the comparison report with the previous two surveys.

The court was informed that out of 435 mohalla clinics in Delhi, 400 were functional and 50-60 of them were conducting COVID-19 testing after completing their OPDs.

The Bench said it was of the view that not only mohalla clinics, but community centres shall also be roped in for setting up testing facilities as cases of COVID-19 are shooting up on a daily basis and on Tuesday 4,473 fresh cases have come up in Delhi, taking the tally to more than 2.25 lakh.

The court said as RAT mostly gives false negative reports, why the government should wait for it and then go to the next level of RT-PCR. Instead, it should shore up to RT-PCR capacity. – PTI