As Delhi Surpasses Mumbai For Highest Number of Cases, Delhi HC Directs Delhi Govt To Submit An Action Plan To Ramp Up Testing- Read order

As Delhi tops the list of cities having the highest number of COVID19 cases in India, the Delhi High Court has directed the Delhi Government to submit a status report highlighting the action plan undertaken to ramp up testing in the national capital.

Covid-19 Test

The Division Bench of Justice Hima Kohli and Justice Subramonium Prasad has further directed the Delhi Government to indicate the degree of compliance with the recommendations of the Committee constituted by the Lieutenant Governor to monitor Delhi’s preparedness to deal with COVID19.

The order has come in a writ petition moved by Mr Rakesh Malhotra seeking ramping of testing facilities for both symptomatic and asymptomatic patients of COVID19.

During the proceedings, the Delhi Government submitted the report of the committee constituted by the LG of Delhi wherein the following parts were cited as relevant:

  1. The Committee has agreed that to avoid duplication of data entries on multiple portals, the private laboratories will be permitted to enter relevant information on the RT-PCR App and on the ICMR portal and they will not be required to upload the data or make entries on any other portal or App.
  2. The Committee has opined that the phlebotomists attached to the private labs who are required to collect the samples on site may fill up Sample Requisition Forms (SRF) in hard copy and subsequently, the said information may be captured and uploaded on the RT-PCR App after going back to the laboratory.
  3. It has been agreed that updation of the information will be done by the private laboratories within 30 minutes, for a positive test and 90 minutes, for a negative test, as recommended by the ICMR. For this purpose, the Delhi Government shall augment the number of data entry operators at the labs to facilitate entries on the ICMR portal
  4. The Committee has also recommended that to ensure that all the samples are processed within a maximum period of 48 hours reckoned from the time, the sample reaches the concerned lab and the private laboratories have been advised not to accept samples beyond their processing capacity.
  5. Lastly, the Committee has suggested that an interactive platform be identified and virtual meetings be convened between the GNCTD and the private laboratories to iron out any difficulties that may be faced by them in the future.

In addition to this, the Delhi Government informed the court that the continuous interaction between the officers of the Health Department, Delhi Government, and the private laboratories is ensured through a WhatsApp group and virtual meetings.

‘Total of 1,09,196 samples have been collected over the past 6 days with an average of 18,200 samples per day’, the Delhi Government submitted.

Delhi Government further submitted that it is proposing to commence conducting Anti Body test across the city at the rate of 4,000 to 5,000 tests per day commencing from 27.06.2020.

At this point, the court directed the Delhi Government to state on affidavit as to how it is proposing to ramp up the tests across Delhi, which has a population of 1.67 crores.

Delhi Government is further directed to upload the ICMR’s advisory dated 23/06/20 on its website which states that Rapid Antibody Testing can be used by all hospitals, laboratories and State Governments including COVID-19 private hospitals for which they will be required to register with the ICMR.

Therefore, the court said:

‘GNCTD is directed to file a fresh Status Report indicating compliances of the Minutes of Meeting of the Committee constituted by the Lt. Governor, GNCTD. A tabulated statement indicating the number of tests in all categories undertaken by the State from 18.6.2020 to 30.6.2020, and the further action plan to ramp up the testing in Delhi be filed well before the next date of hearing.’

The court will next take up the matter on July 02.

Published by Sneha Vishwakarma

Advocate, Bombay High court.

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