NEW DELHI: Health minister Harsh Vardhan has asked the Delhi government to ramp up testing and not to shrink test criteria following a spike in Covid-19 cases in the national capital. Vardhan reviewed the situation in Delhi with lieutenant-governor Anil Baijal and state health minister Satyendra Jain.

The health ministry has said that testing numbers were not uniform across Delhi’s districts. Though the total numbers were high, there are several districts were testing was much lower than average numbers. While the average testing per million in Delhi was 2,018, some districts such as northeast (517 tests per million population) and southeast (506 tests per million population) were far below. While the UT’s positivity rate was 25.7% last week, several districts reported figures above 38%.

As reported in ET on Thursday, the Delhi government issued fresh testing guidelines under which asymptomatic high-risk contacts of a confirmed case would not be tested. Speaking to ET 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. Vardhan took a grim view of the rising numbers. “The rising cases, high positivity rates and low testing levels in many districts are worrisome. There is a reason why the positivity rate is high. This shows that the testing base is low.” The health minister pointed to rising number of infection among healthcare workers. “It indicates poor infection prevention control practices in health care settings and needs to be attended to on priority.”

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