Lab technicians produce Covid-19 diagnostic kits in a laboratory in Faridabad
Technicians inside a testing lab | Representational image | T Narayan | Bloomberg
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New Delhi: The increase in RT-PCR tests for the novel coronavirus against rapid antigen tests in Delhi has only been marginal in the first two weeks of October even as the national capital this week conducted a record number of RT-PCR tests

Delhi government data, analysed by ThePrint, revealed that the number of RT-PCR tests, considered the gold standard for testing, has increased by a mere 7.2 per cent from 1 October to 15 October.

RT-PCR tests increased from 9,969 on 1 October to 13,985 on 15 October, the data showed.

The national capital conducted a record 13,985 RT-PCR tests Thursday.

During 1-15 October, the number of RT-PCR tests conducted was only 26.2 per cent of the total tests.

Last month, the Delhi High court had pulled up the Kejriwal government for “wasting testing capacity” and not conducting RT-PCR tests to its full capacity of 15,000 tests per day. 

The Delhi government is expected to give the court updated data on how testing has been ramped up in the capital on 20 October.

Also read: RT-PCR, antigen, antibody, TrueNAT — all you need to know about the different Covid tests

RT-PCR testing up, but still below capacity

The government data showed that on 1 October, only 17.9 per cent or 9,969 tests of the total 55,423 were conducted via RT-PCR.

On 15 October, RT-PCR tests increased to 25.1 per cent or 13,985 tests of the total 55,891

RT-PCR tests remained below the 10,000 mark in the period between 1-7 October, except for one day i.e. 2 October when 11,105 RT-PCR tests were recorded, according to Delhi government data.

During this period, 9,969 RT-PCR tests were conducted on 1 October, 11,105 on 2 October, 8,844 on 3 October, 8,963 4 October, 7,585 on 5 October, 9,103 on 6 October, and 9,059 on 7 October. 

In the week between 8-15 October, RT-PCR tests started rising, but did not touch its capacity of 15,000 RT-PCR tests per day.

In this period, RT-PCR tests were recorded as — 10,125 (8 October), 11,651 (9 October), 10,384 (10 October), 10,801 (11 October), 10,260 (12 October), 11,023 (13 October), 12,596 (14 October), and 13,985 (15 October), government data showed.

In the period between 1-15 October, a total of 1,55,453 RT-PCR tests were conducted against a total of 5,91,746 rapid antigen tests.

ThePrint reached Director General, health services, of Delhi government Nutan Mundeja and Health Minister Satyendar Jain through phone calls, texts and emails for a comment, but received no response till the time of publishing this report.  

Delhi HC emphasis on ramping up RT-PCR

During a hearing on 30 September, the high court had noted: “Much emphasis has constantly been laid by this court on ramping up of tests through RT-PCR in Delhi but it has not activated the respondent/Delhi government adequately.” 

The court also said: “As against the testing capacity of 15,000 through RT-PCR and other similar tests per day available in Delhi, the actual number of testing being conducted through this mode is still floating around 11,000 tests per day on an average.” 

The National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) expert committee report, too, has laid emphasis on the need to scale up and re-strategise testing. 

The report, which has been submitted to the Delhi government earlier this month, stated “optimum utilisation of all labs for RT-PCR testing must be ensured”. 

The report, accessed by ThePrint, also said: “Increase in the number of tests should be reflected in the increased case finding. Merely increasing the number of tests to reduce positivity rate would not be appropriate.” 

The expert committee report is also expected to be submitted in the court on 20 October. 

The court had said: “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 a request has been made to await the said recommendations.”

Also read: Retest all symptomatic antigen-negative patients using RT-PCR, says Delhi govt


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