COVID-19: Vardhan presses for mandatory retesting of all symptomatic RAT negative cases in Delhi

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New Delhi, Nov 5 (PTI) Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan on Thursday expressed concern over the surge in COVID-19 cases in Delhi and pressed for mandatory retesting of all persons who test negative in rapid antigen tests and develop symptoms of Influenza-like illness and Severe Acute Respiratory Infection (SARI) later.

He said false negative results of the disease might give way to complacency among the coronavirus infected.

During a meeting, Vardhan interacted with Lt Governor Anil Baijal and Delhi Health Minister Satyendra Kumar Jain in presence of senior officials, mayors, municipal commissioners and district magistrates of the city.

Vardhan expressed concern over the rise in the number of cases and the high positivity rate in the north, central, northeast, east, northwest and southeast districts of Delhi.

'We are particularly concerned over the rise of the positivity rate in these six districts,' he said.

In the meeting, he was told that 77 per cent of the tests are RAT-based while RT-PCR comprises only 23 per cent of the total tests.

Later, in a statement, the Delhi government said Delhi's ratio of RAT to RT-PCR tests stands at 77 per cent primarily because Delhi has adopted an aggressive testing strategy and is testing more than any city or state in India, and in fact, among the highest in the world.

'We stand committed to increasing our capacity to conduct more RT-PCR tests and urge the Centre to provide all possible resources towards that end,' the statement said.

Noting that false negative results might give way to complacency among the coronavirus infected, Vardhan pressed for mandatory retesting of all those who test negative in rapid antigen tests and later develop symptoms of ILI and SARI.

Vardhan urged the officers to instil COVID-appropriate behaviour among the masses and blunt the momentum of the infectious disease by the end of the year, so that it loses its potency.

He also reiterated the government's commitment to vaccinate 20-25 crore citizens, including those involved in frontline healthcare by mid-2021.

Lt Governor Baijal noted that the Delhi administration has been cautioned by experts about possible surges because of the festive season and facilitation of inter-state transport.

He also informed that the administration is working to inculcate changes in standard operating procedures for more efficient containment of the disease spread.

Delhi Health Minister Jain requested the Centre to increase the number of ICU beds in AIIMS-New Delhi and other central hospitals to augment the present capacity which has come under strain.

Union health secretary Rajesh Bhushan noted that effective contact-tracing is achieved not only by tracing a large number of contacts but also by completing the exercise within the first 72 hours itself.

He requested the Delhi administration to shift patients requiring critical care to the Defence Medical Hospital Facility at Dhaula Kuan that has provision for 125 ICU beds.

Delhi has registered record-high cases in the past few days. On Wednesday, the city saw a record single-day jump in COVID-19 cases with over 6,800 confirmed infections.

In the statement, the Delhi government said it is committed to work together with all agencies, including the Centre, in effectively managing the COVID-19 situation in the national capital, just like it has done in the past.

'It is because of such an approach that today Delhi stands at 17th position in terms of COVID-related fatalities among all cities in India. Centre should know that comparing Delhi's fatality rate with all India average isn't a like to like comparison. Delhi is a mega-city and when compared against cities, Delhi is doing much better.

'While Mumbai tops the list of deaths per million due to COVID-19 with 831 cases, Chennai has 518 cases, Kolkata has 503 cases, Bangalore urban has 408 cases, whereas Delhi has 338 cases,' it said. PTI UZM TDS TDS