Delhi govt. officials say figure too high, likely capacity around 15,000-20,000

The Centre informed the Delhi government earlier this week that the latter has the capacity to do about 27,000 RT-PCR test daily to detect COVID-19, said officials.

“The Centre informed the Delhi government two days back that labs in the city have a capacity to conduct 27,016 RT-PCR tests per day. But the figure is too high and the Delhi government is reviewing it,” a Delhi government official told The Hindu.

The Delhi government has maintained the city labs have a capacity to do around 14,000 RT-PCR tests a day.

Two types of tests are done to test for COVID-19 in the city: RT-PCR and Rapid Antigen Test (RAT). RT-PCR test is considered the gold standard and gives more accurate results compared to RAT. Results of RT-PCR usually come the next day, while RAT takes only 30 minutes to give a result.

Rapid antigen test

The Delhi government has been heavily dependent on RAT to increase testing in the city. Earlier this week, the Delhi High Court took note of this and ordered the Delhi government to increase RT-PCR testing.

“Having regard to the fact that results of RAT are only 60% accurate… we are of the firm view that RT-PCR should be the way forward. Delhi govt. ought to focus on shoring up RT-PCR testing capacity,” the Bench had said. The court also directed an expert committee to convene a meeting on “priority” to consider the extent to which capacity building for RT-PCR testing is required in the current scenario.

Over the last two days, the Delhi government has been contacting labs to assess capacity, and it is less than 27,000, said officials.

“In many cases, the actual capacity of the labs mentioned in the list is less. The process is still under way, but the actual total capacity could be between 15,000 and 20,000,” the official said,” the official said.

A second official, confirming the development, said the Centre may have calculated capacity based on machines in labs. “We also need staff to do the work and it cannot be done 24*7. All these things have to be taken into consideration,” the official said.



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