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Delhi government chalks out plan to ramp up Covid testing

The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP)-led Delhi government has started chalking out a strategy to double the number of coronavirus disease (Covid-19) tests per day within a week and a standard operating procedure (SOP) is likely to be shared with all 11 revenue districts over this weekend, officials in health minister Satyendra Kumar Jain’s office said.

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The process was initiated on Friday, a day after Jain wrote to Union health secretary Ajay Bhalla urging him not to “interfere” in the state government’s Covid-19 management strategy.

Jain cited a note issued by Vikram Dev Dutt, principal secretary (health), Delhi, who had proposed that the opinion of the central government’s committee led by Dr VK Paul be sought in this matter. The Union ministry of home affairs (MHA) dismissed the allegation as “false” and “baseless”.

“Now, that there is clarity that the Delhi government will go ahead on this independently, a proper strategy is needed on how it is to be done. The work started from Friday followed a meeting chaired by minister Jain. The state government has decided to draft an SOP as well,” said the government official cited above.

The decision to double the number of Covid-19 tests — from around 20,000 being conducted at present to 40,000 per day — was announced by chief minister Arvind Kejriwal earlier this week following a spike in the viral infection in the national capital.

Delhi recorded 1,840 new Covid-19 cases on Thursday — the highest single-day spike in 48 days – as the average went up to 1,464 fresh cases for the past seven days.

The Delhi government would also take into consideration formulating a strategy to ensure that real-time polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) tests are increased along with the rapid antigen detection (RAD) tests, which are less accurate but produce results in a brief span of time and also much cheaper.

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