Delhi High Court: The Govt. Has Failed to Meet Its Target for Rapid Antigen Testing

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Delhi HC, after assessing the figures on Rapid Antigen testing observed that the Delhi Govt. has not conducted more than 50% of the test. The Court remarked that the numbers of tests conducted were abysmal. The Delhi Government has failed to meet its target in (Rakesh Malhotra vs NCT of Delhi).

Facts of the Case

In Delhi HC, Advocate Rakesh Malhotra filed a Public Interest Litigation. It was regarding the rate and the status of COVID-19 testing conducted in the city. The PIL seeks proper testing of COVID patients in both govt. and private hospitals and laboratories.

The Court had earlier directed the Expert Committee to advise the DDMA about the issues faced by private laboratories. The Court had also directed the Delhi Govt. to ensure the test results are within 24-48 hours.

The Delhi Govt. was also asked to ensure that the website gets updated after the tests got conducted. They had to ensure that the correct numbers of the test get reflected on the website.

Petitioner’s Arguments

The petitioner, Rakesh Malhotra, submitted that the private hospitals which got declared as COVID-19 hospitals should be allowed to conduct tests. He submitted that they should get permitted to conduct a test on symptomatic and asymptomatic persons. It should be allowed on persons who seek admission for COVID-19 treatment or scheduled/emergent surgeries.

Respondent’s Arguments

The Delhi Govt. informed the Court that it has targeted to conduct 22,000 Rapid Antigen tests per day. As on June 21, 9,356 samples underwent the Rapid Antigen test. Further, 3,989 samples through the RT PCR test were done. The Delhi Govt. asked the Court to examine the figures after a week of testing at least.

ICMR authorized only the govt. hospitals to conduct the Rapid Antigen testing for Containment zones or Hotspots. The submission included the fact that ICMR had not recognised private laboratories and thus, not authorised them for conducting COVID-19 test.

NABL said that once ICMR gives the authorization to private laboratories, it will not come in the way. It also clarified that no restrictions on any approval of a private laboratory for undertaking the COVID-19 test existed.

The Court was informed that each member of the Committee was explained of the order passed. Due to preoccupation, they were not able to deliberate on the issues.

Court’s Decision

The Court remarked,

“If that is so (target figure of 22,000 tests through Rapid Antigen tests per day), then the figures of the testing done from June 18, 2020, onwards are abysmal. Delhi Government has not conducted more than 50% of the tests and failed to keep to the target.”

The Court thus directed the Chief Secretary, Delhi Govt. to request the members of the Committee to assemble over video conferencing to discuss the issues raised by private laboratories and convey their recommendations on or before June 24, 2020.


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