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Ensure that results of COVID-19 test samples are forwarded within a period of 24-48 hours: Delhi HC directs State Govt

Aditi Singh

The Delhi High Court today directed the Delhi Government to ensure that the samples for COVID-19 tests are processed and reports are forwarded within a period of 24-48 hours. (Rakesh Malhotra vs NCT of Delhi)

The Court has further directed the Delhi Government to continue updating its website on a regular basis to reflect the correct number and status of tests that are being conducted for COVID-19 in the city.

The order was passed by a Divison Bench of Justices Hima Kohli and Subramonium Prasad in a petition preferred by advocate Rakesh Malhotra.

It was the Petitioner's grievance that the Delhi Government was not taking expeditious steps to furnish reports after conducting tests for COVID-19 on suspected people.

The Petitioner contended that as a result of the delay, the contact tracing was also getting delayed, thus giving a chance to the infection to multiply.

Court's attention was also drawn to the Twitter handle of the Chief Medical Officer, Delhi which stated that as on April 28, 3295 results were pending and on April 30, this number rose to 3793.

It was claimed that from Apirl 1, the pendency went up by 7 times.

In response to the Petition, the Delhi Government informed the Court that it was cognizant of the delay in receiving reports and has dealt with it without losing time.

On April 22, it was decided that henceforth no sample shall be sent to NIB, Noida due to the delay of over 15 days in forwarding the reports, the Delhi Government said.

It was added that the samples are now being distributed among other government and private labs to ensure that the reports are received within one day from the date of submission.

In response to the Petitioner's concern that the decision was only valid till May 3, the Delhi Government said that it shall continue to operate for atleast two more weeks.

The Court was further informed that at present, there are 23 accredited labs that undertake COVID -19 testing in Delhi, out of which 10 are in the public sector and others in the private sector.

Claiming that the collective capacity of these labs was 3000-3500 tests per day, the Delhi Government contended that test reports would be received within 1-2 days from the date the sample is received by a lab.

From 9,226 pending reports on May 2, the Delhi Government said, the number had come down to 3790 till the night of May 3 and their result was also expected to come on the same day or next day.

In view of the submissions made before it, the Court opined that it was satisfied that adequate remedial measures had been taken by the Delhi Government to expedite receipt of reports for testing patients for COVID-19 infection.

It nonetheless ordered,

Delhi Government is directed to ensure that the samples that are furnished to the accredited labs, details whereof have been furnished in the documents forwarded by learned ASC by Whatsapp shall be processed and reports forwarded within a period of 24/48 hours. It is further directed that the Delhi Government shall continue updating its website on a regular basis to reflect the correct number of tests that are being conducted for COVID-19 in Delhi, mention the number of cases that are positive or negative and state the number of results that are pending after the tests are conducted.
Delhi High Court

The Petition was accordingly disposed of.

The petitioner appeared in person.

Delhi Goverment was represented by Additional Standing Counsel Satyakam.

ASG Maninder Acharya with Standing Counsel Anurag Ahluwalia appeared for Central Government.

Read the Order:

Rakesh Malhotra vs NCT of Delhi Order.pdf
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Read the Petition:

Rakesh Malhotra vs NCT of Delhi - Writ (1).pdf
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