HC expresses displeasure at decline of RT-PCR tests

The orders were passed while the court was hearing a petition filed by advocate Rakesh Malhotra who had sought rapid Covid-19 testing and declaration of results in 48 hours.

New Delhi: The Delhi High Court has expressed displeasure at the rapid decline in the number of RT-PCR tests in the national capital, saying that almost 50 per cent of such tests are not being conducted by the Delhi Government.

A division bench of the High Court presided by Justices Hima Kohli and Subromonium Prasad expressed disappointment after noting that while the Delhi government has the capacity to conduct 11,000 RT-PCR tests, only 6,000 of such tests are being done.

“Almost 50 per cent capacity of the RT-PCR tests are not being conducted in Delhi. The focus seems to be mainly on testing through RAT whereas RT-PCR is the gold standard test,” the bench noted.

The orders were passed while the court was hearing a petition filed by advocate Rakesh Malhotra who had sought rapid Covid-19 testing and declaration of results in 48 hours.

Malhotra through his petition had said that the Delhi government is not taking expeditious steps to furnish reports after conducting tests for Covid-19 on suspected people, within a reasonable time frame of 48 hours or even earlier and as a result of the said delay, the contact tracing is also getting delayed and the infection is multiplying rapidly in Delhi.

In its status report, the National Centre of Disease Control (NCDC) informed the court that the Sero surveillance has revealed that the highest prevalence of the virus has been found in Central (22.87), Shahdara (27.61) and North East (27.7) districts of the national capital.

The Sero surveillance report has also revealed that on an average across the national capital, the prevalence of antibodies is 22.86 per cent. “The study also indicates that a large number of infected persons remain asymptomatic,” the document filed by the NCDC said.

Sujeet Singh, Director, National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), who was present in the hearing submitted that the Sero prevalence studies indicate that higher the density of population in a district, larger the number of Covid cases.

Singh recommended increasing the testing through the RT-PCR mode for the public rather than the RAT.

“However, for those who are to be admitted or propose to undergo surgical/non-surgical procedures in hospitals, the order of testing should be RAT followed by RT-PCR with the idea that the RAT results are faster and therefore, the follow-up treatment can be expedited,” Singh said.

The ICMR informed the bench that it will soon issue fresh advisory in this regard while the Delhi government and NCDC too informed the court that a meeting would soon take place to decide the further course of action in this regard.

The matter will now be heard on August 4.

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