NEW DELHI: Alarmed by the spike in Covid-19 cases in Delhi, health minister Dr Harsh Vardhan has asked the state government to ramp up testing and not shrink testing criteria.

Health minister Dr Harsh Vardhan reviewed the situation in Delhi with lieutenant-governor Anil Baijal and state health minister Satyendra Jain. The health ministry has pointed out that testing numbers are not uniform across districts. Though the total numbers tested are high, there are several districts which are testing much lower than the average numbers. While the average testing per million population in Delhi was 2018, some districts such as north east (517 tests per million population) and South east (506 tests per million population) were far below. While the UT’s positivity rate of last week was 25.7%, several districts reported figures above 38%.

As reported in ET on June 4, Delhi government had issued fresh testing guidelines on Wednesday under which asymptomatic high risk contacts of a confirmed case cannot be tested. Speaking to ET, Dr Harsh Vardhan said, “We have given broad testing guidelines after speaking to experts. Ideally this is the time to test as many numbers as possible. Testing is not harmful. It only helps you to identify any infected person who might be silently infecting others. This is why we have asked the state to ramp up testing numbers.”

According to sources, district magistrates admitted in the meeting that testing numbers were low. Dr Harsh Vardhan took a grim view of the rising numbers. “The rising cases, high positivity rates and low testing levels in many districts are worrisome,” he said adding “There is a reason why the positivity rate is high. This shows that the testing base is low. The health minister also pointed out the rising number of health care workers getting infected. “It indicates poor infection prevention control practices in health care settings and needs to be attended to on priority,” Dr Harsh Vardhan pointed out.

The health ministry has asked Delhi government to immediately scale up testing and improve bed availability in view of current rapid rise of cases along with avoiding unnecessary delay in admission of cases. “As a significant proportion are on home isolation, all efforts for timely response in terms of testing, triaging and shifting of patients to the required level of Dedicated COVID facility is important to avoid mortality”, he said.

Delhi government has also been asked to establish fever clinics and flu corners I all healthcare settings to focus on contact tracing and surveillance. Delhi has 23,645 confirmed Covid-19 cases.

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