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Delhi Govt has failed to meet its target for Rapid Antigen testing; figures of the testing are abysmal: Delhi HC

Aditi Singh

Taking note of the figures on the Rapid Antigen testing, the Delhi High Court today remarked that the number of tests conducted were abysmal and that the Delhi Government had even failed to meet its target. (Rakesh Malhotra vs NCT of Delhi)

The Court was hearing a petition preferred by Advocate Rakesh Malhotra concerning the rate and status of COVID-19 testing in the city.

A Division Bench of Justices Hima Kohli and Subramonium Prasad was informed by the Delhi Government that as opposed to a target of conducting 22,000 Rapid Antigen tests per day, on June 18, 7,040 samples were tested through the Rapid Antigen detection test. Another 7,972 were conducted through the RT PCR test.

As on June 21, 9,356 samples were tested through the Rapid Antigen test and 3,989 samples through the RT PCR test.

In response to the figures, the Court remarked,

If that is so (target figure of 22,000 tests through Rapid Antigen tests per day), then the figures of the testing done from 18th June, 2020 onwards are abysmal. Delhi Government has not conducted more than 50% of the tests and failed to keep to the target.
Delhi High Court

The Delhi Government stated that the Court may examine the figures after testing has been conducted for at least one week, i.e. June 25, 2020.

The Delhi Government further explained that as of now, only the government hospitals were authorized by ICMR to conduct the Rapid Antigen testing and for Containment zones or Hotspots.

After the Petitioner, Rakesh Malhotra submitted that even the private hospitals, which have been declared as COVID-19 hospitals, should be permitted to conduct the Rapid Antigen testing on symptomatic and asymptomatic persons, the Court asked the counsel for ICMR to obtain necessary instructions.

On the last date of hearing, the Court had directed the Expert Committee constituted to advise the Delhi Disaster Management Authority to consider the issues being faced by private laboratories in the city.

Today, the Court was informed that each member of the Committee was separately apprised of the order passed but due to their preoccupation on account of the COVID-19 situation, they were not able to deliberate on the issues.

The Court thus directed the Chief Secretary, Delhi Government to request the members of the Committee to assemble over video conferencing to discuss the issues raised by private laboratories and convey their recommendations on or before June 24, 2020.

NABL also clarified that it had not placed any embargo or insisted on any fresh accreditation of a private laboratory for undertaking the COVID-19 test.

It was submitted that it was for the ICMR to recognize the private laboratories and authorize them for conducting the COVID-19 test.

Once ICMR has to give a sanction to a private laboratory to conduct the COVID-19 test, NABL will not come in the way, NABL said.

The matter would be heard next on June 25.

Additional Standing Counsel Satyakam appeared for Delhi Government.

ICMR was represented by Standing Counsel Anurag Ahluwalia with Advocates Abhigyan Siddhant, Viplav Acharya.

Advocate Vikas Chopra appeared for NABL.

Read the Order:

Rakesh Malhotra vs NCT of Delhi - June 22.pdf
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