By Weindrila Sen-
The order is issued upon a Writ Petition filed by Rakesh Malhotra. Petitioner seeks directions to be issued to the Delhi Government to increase the tests in the national capital. The Delhi High Court has called the Delhi Government for not conducting an adequate number of test. Despite having a capacity of 11,000 RT-PCR tests/day, the Government is only doing 6,000 RT-PCR tests/day, which is nearly only 50% of its capacity. The bench also mentioned that despite knowing that RT-PCR is a golden standard test, the Government is using more of Rapid Antigen Testing (RAT).
The bench also read through the report submitted by National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), stating that the district with higher population density like Shahdara, North-East District, and Central District have higher virus spread than districts like South District and South-West District. The report makes it quite clear that areas with higher population density, have a higher level of COVID-19 infection cases.
Dr. Sujeet Singh, Director, NCDC, present in the hearing, submitted that as per the recommendation made by NCDC, the Delhi Government should increase the testing through RT PCR mode more than RAT. Dr.Singh also added that for people who are getting admitted for any other purpose in the Hospital, should be tested using RAT followed up by RT PCR, as it gives faster results.
The Petitioner also pointed to the Court, that by order dated 05.07.2020 and 09.07.2020-, the Delhi Government has directed to use RAT on a certain high-risk group of individuals, visiting healthcare facilities including patients getting admitted with Severe Acute Respiratory Infection (SARI). Petitioner also stated that the ICMR advisory has recommended the use of RAT in Containment zones/host spots but did not dispense the use of RT PCR. Dr.Nivedita Gupta, Scientist from ICRM, confirmed that the RAT is not required for patients suffering from SARI and can directly get tested through RT PCR. The Court has ordered the Delhi Government to amend its order dated 05.07.2020 and 09.07.2020 and to follow the ICMR advisory.
ICRM has also clarified that the requirement of a doctor’s prescription for seeking a COVID-19 test is mandatory both in the private and government sector. The Court also called out the Delhi Government for not uploading the above-mentioned guideline on the ICMR website. ICMR, NCDC and the Delhi Government to file fresh Status Reports before the next date of hearing.