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Delhi High Court to hear plea seeking increase in RT-PCR Tests

By Snehal Khemka      01 May, 2021 12:49 PM      0 Comments
Delhi High Court RT-PCR Tests

The Delhi HC on Tuesday, April 27, 2021, heard a plea filed by Advocate Ankur Mahindro concerning the decline in the number of RT-PCR tests being conducted in the national capital. It alleges that in the last 4-5 days, RT-PCR tests being conducted by private laboratories have reduced, even when the positivity rates are at an all-time high of beyond 30%.

"The disadvantage to low testing or delayed reports is bound to lead to more infection as it is impossible to make containment zones till the time news is received of people testing positive," it states to be precise.

The matter was mentioned on Monday, April 26, 2021 before a Division Bench of Justices Vipin Sanghi and Rekha Palli, responsible for hearing cases pertaining to the Covid-19 situation in Delhi. The intervention has been made in the case titled Rakesh Malhotra v. GNCTD.

The applicant seeks a direction to all the laboratories to ramp up testing. "It is important that urgent directives are issued to all private laboratories to furnish before this Hon'ble Court, the number of RT-PCR tests conducted in the last 2 weeks and the time taken to deliver the said reports on an average, including detailed breakup of how much time is taken by ICMR to certify the reports," the plea states.

When the matter was mentioned, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta asked the intervenor to share "best practices" that may be adopted by the Government in this regard. Accordingly, Mahindro suggested the following- 

1: Ramp up Testing

ICMR and other concerned authorities to ensure more and more laboratories are being approved to conduct RT-PCR tests. Centre may issue Show Cause notices to all private laboratories in Delhi, directing to disclose their maximum capacities and the reasons why the said capacity is not being met. Centre may order that if any laboratory is found to be unreasonably rejecting to conduct tests, strict action shall be taken against them. Mobile testing vans, as adopted by the State of Maharashtra, be adopted in Delhi as well.

2: Address shortage of RT-PCR Kits

Centre may speed up the process of RT-PCR kits being imported by private laboratories, which are stuck in customs. State Government may earmark funds and import RT-PCR machines in order to ramp up testing at Government centres. Other strategies to ramp up testing of residents all across Delhi be used, like pooled testing, which allows laboratories to test more samples with fewer testing materials. It could be used in a scenario where workers of one workplace or one family can be tested together.

3: Handling of samples

Ensure that samples being collected are handled with utmost care and the Phlebotomists be provided with appropriate ice boxes for carrying of samples.

4. Reduce time taken to furnish testing reports

A strict direction be issued to ICMR by the Central Government qua the time taken by the authority to certify the reports submitted by laboratories on its data entry portal.

Alternatively, the said process of certification/verification may be automated and done immediately upon uploading of the report on its portal.

5: Cap testing prices

Mahindro suggestes that there is a need to take a look at the skyrocketing and exorbitant pricing that the private laboratories are asking today for RT-PCR and other tests related to COVID-19. Standard blood tests being prescribed by the doctors are easily amounting to approximately Rs. 15,000/-. A chest CT Scan, i.e., an HRCT is being charged at a minimum rate of Rs. 3,500/-, a test which is essential for keeping a check on the lungs of a COVID-19 patient.

As of today, apart from RT-PCR tests, private laboratories have started running short on testing kits of other tests related to COVID-19 like D-Dimer test, etc. Immediate steps to be taken in this regard as well to ensure that things may not spiral qua such tests as well as the plea asserts.

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