The Delhi government has decided to cap the rate of COVID-19 RT-PCR test at Rs 2,400 with the city witnessing an alarming spurt in coronavirus cases.
In its meeting chaired by Lt Governor Anil Baijal, the Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) approved the recommendations of a high-level expert committee for fixing the COVID-19 testing rate at Rs 2,400 for all facilities including private and government.
On Thursday, the government started using rapid antigen kits for COVID-19 testing in containment zones and healthcare settings and fixed the rate at Rs 450.
With the capping of COVID-19 RT-PCR (reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction) test and commencement of rapid antigen test, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal hoped that the people won't face any problem in getting themselves tested now.
"Two important things happened today. The Covid testing rates in Delhi have been reduced to Rs 2,400 and rapid antigen testing has started. I hope people won't face any problem in getting themselves tested now," Kejriwal tweeted in Hindi.
In a tweet, Baijal said, "Thanks to guidance from Hon'ble HM @HMOIndia, Covid testing is now more affordable and widely available in Delhi! More testing will strengthen Delhi's battle with Covid-19. With more tests and efficient tracing , precious lives can be saved. #IndiaFightsCorona."
In another tweet, the lieutenant governor said to increase testing capacity, 169 antigen testing centres (ATC) have been set up in Delhi for rapid antigen testing procedure with the help of 341 teams.
According to a statement issued by the LG office, Baijal in the DDMA meeting advised that the health department should ensure that the labs adhere to quality and provide a robust patient feedback and grievance redressal system for the users.
"During the antigen detection tests, all social distancing norms will be observed. The Medical teams at the centres will ensure that all Covid positive cases should be followed up for treatment as per the guidelines and protocol issued by the ICMR," the statement stated.
It also stated that the LG directed all concerned for having a comprehensive roadmap to closely monitor emerging situation by ramping up testing, house-to-house survey in containment zones aggressive contact tracing and treatment.
The rapid antigen kits allow faster diagnosis without laboratory examination.
In the meeting, the DDMA also approved a proposal under which people getting discharged after recovering from COVID-19 will be issued a certificate by the hospital.
Earlier this week, the Indian Council of Medical Research had recommended the use of rapid antigen test kits for diagnosis of COVID-19 in containment zones and healthcare settings in combination with the RT-PCR test.
There are around 240 COVID-19 containment zones in the national capital and the government has decided to conduct door-to-door survey in these zones.
Standard Q COVID-19 Ag detection kit (rapid antigen test kits) is a rapid chromatographic immunoassay for qualitative detection of specific antigens to SARS-CoV-2.
It has been developed by SD Biosensor, a South Korea-based company, the ICMR recently said in its advisory.
The Standard Q COVID-19 Ag detection can be interpreted as positive or negative after 15 minutes of putting the sample into the well by appearance of test and control lines, which can be read with a naked eye, requiring no specialised equipment, the ICMR had said.
The maximum duration for interpreting a positive or negative test is 30 minutes. After that the test strip should be discarded, it said.
On Wednesday, Delhi recorded 2,414 fresh coronavirus cases, the highest single-day spike, taking the tally in the city to over 47,000 while the death toll from the disease climbed to 1,904.
The death toll from COVID-19 in Delhi was 1,837 on Tuesday.