New Delhi: The Delhi government has now allowed polyclinics and dispensaries to conduct rapid antigen tests to enhance screening for Covid-19 infections in the national capital.
According to an order issued by Director General of Health Services Nutan Mundeja Thursday evening, the Delhi government is adopting a ‘Test-Track-Treat’ strategy for early detection and containment of the pandemic.
As part of the strategy, the government has decided to offer rapid antigen testing at both Delhi government dispensaries and polyclinics from 9 am to noon on all working days. The order, a copy of which has been seen by ThePrint, says the decision comes into effect immediately.
The tests will, however, will only be conducted on people who fulfil the eligibility criteria fixed by the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government.
The government has specified that those with symptoms of influenza-like illness (ILI) and all their asymptomatic and direct high-risk contacts must be tested. To identify those with ILI, government officials will pick people from surveys being carried out in the capital.
Besides this, patients admitted with severe acute respiratory infections (SARI) must compulsorily go through rapid antigen testing. The order states that high-risk groups such as patients undergoing chemotherapy, immunosuppressed patients including those who are HIV positive, those diagnosed with malignant disease and the elderly with comorbidities must be tested at these clinics.
Even asymptomatic patients undergoing aerosol generating surgical or non-surgical interventions should also get these rapid antigen tests done at polyclinics or dispensaries, the order adds.
Need to ramp up testing
The director general of health services has mentioned in the order that with the national capital reporting nearly 2,500 cases every day, there are expected to be at least 7-8 direct and high-risk contacts at home and at workplaces. “This effectively means we need to test at least 20,000 people every day,” the order states.
It adds that the “rapid antigen testing at dispensaries and polyclinics will be undertaken in combination with the gold standard RT-PCR based molecular testing”.
“All clients with high index of suspicion if reported as negative on rapid antigen testing (e.g. symptomatic individuals reported as negative) will be essentially taken for RT PCR testing to rule out false negative results,” the government order adds.
Meanwhile, acting upon the suggestions made by the National Centre for Disease Control and Niti Aayog in its report, the deputy commissioner (Central) has been asked to run a campaign to test auto-rickshaw, taxi and truck drivers. The DC (South East) has been asked to set up a rapid antigen testing camp in and around Kotla Mubarakpur to ensure daily labourers and masons are tested on priority. Similarly, the DCs of North and East districts have been directed to set up rapid antigen testing centre at Azadpur Mandi and Ghazipur Mandi, respectively.
The move comes as cases spiral in Delhi. On Thursday, the national capital recorded 2,187 new cases, taking its total to 1,07,051. It also witnessed 45 deaths, taking the toll up to 3,258. According to the state health bulletin, there have been 82,226 recoveries so far, while 7,24,148 tests have been conducted in all.
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