Delhi’s Covid testing 4K short of actual capacity, says HC

The Delhi High Court yet again pulled up the city government for not using its actual testing capacity, noting that Delhi can conduct 15,000 RT-PCR tests per day while actual number of tests being done is still around 11,000.

“Delhi has the capacity of conducting 15,000 tests per day through RT-PCR mode… 4,000 RT-PCR tests per day are not being utilised, which does not make any sense when cases of Covid-19 infection during the period between September 14, 2020 to September 27, 2020, remain in the range of 3,500-4,000 cases per day with only one exception on September 20 when the positive cases reported were 2,548,” said a division bench of Justices Hima Kohli and Subramonium Prasad.

The court further noted that the report of Sero Surveillance-3 reflects a reduction of the IgG antibodies’ seroprevalence from 28.7 per cent to 25.1 per cent.

“The seroprevalence has declined in northwest and central districts but has increased in west, south, northwest and east districts,” it said.

As per the report submitted to the court, the seroprevalence was found to be more in females during the three rounds of Sero Surveillance and least in those aged 18 to 49 years, as compared to those aged below 18 years and above 50 years.

“The conclusion in the Sero Surveillance-3 report is that there is a need to enhance the focus on sample representativeness of the survey in the central, northeast and north districts,” the court said.

In its report filed before the court, the city government said that Geospatial Delhi Ltd has incorporated the changes made in the draft map, in terms of the feedback received from various districts and the said map of available testing in Delhi was received by the Delhi government on September 28.

“The map mentions a total of 320 testing sites in Delhi. The said map has been shared with DMRC for being displayed at permanent locations/sites at all major Metro Stations. It has also been sent to the Delhi State Mission and uploaded on various websites of the Delhi Government,” the order noted.

The Delhi government also told the high court that providing access to Covid-19 testing through Mohalla Clinics and Community Centres is under the active consideration of the Expert Committee constituted by the Lt. Governor. “But no final decision on the way forward for capacity building and ramping up the overall testing strategy in Delhi has been taken,” the government, represented by Additional Solicitor General Sanjay Jain and Additional Standing Counsel Satyakam, submitted.

While posting the matter for further hearing on October 7, the high court has asked the ASG to inform the court of the date finalised for commencing the next Sero Surveillance in Delhi.

“Since we are informed that the Expert Committee is actively involved in re-strategising the testing capacity as also reviewing the overall strategy required to be followed by the Delhi government and request has been made to await the said recommendations, list on October 7, 2020,” said the court.

The directions came as the court was hearing a PIL filed by advocate Rakesh Malhotra seeking increasing Covid-19 testing numbers in the national capital and getting speedy results.