Covid-19: Rapid antigen testing in Delhi from June 20

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Published: June 18, 2020 1:30 AM

Wider testing has been the key to Delhi detecting more cases — it is now detecting 23.9 cases per 100 tests conducted, compared to 6.6 a month ago, when it wasn’t testing as many people as it is doing now.

At present, the national capital is testing at the rate of 15,708 per million population. At present, the national capital is testing at the rate of 15,708 per million population.

Delhi will be rolling out rapid antigen testing for Covid-19 from June 20, to ramp up testing at a time when the daily growth in cases detected has averaged 1,490 between June 1 and June 16. The rapid antigen test kit that has been approved by the Indian Council of Medical Research will be a point-of-care test — unlike RT PCR needing a laboratory setting, it can be administered at the site where the subject is — and the result is known in 30 minutes, as opposed to the 3-4 hours that RT PCR takes, not including time consumed in transferring sample to the laboratory, etc.

Wider testing has been the key to Delhi detecting more cases — it is now detecting 23.9 cases per 100 tests conducted, compared to 6.6 a month ago, when it wasn’t testing as many people as it is doing now. At present, the national capital is testing at the rate of 15,708 per million population. However, this lags Mumbai, that has been hit hard by the pandemic, and Tamil Nadu — Mumbai is testing 20,340 people per million population and Tamil Nadu 21,834; they are, respectively, reporting 30.3 and 7.9 positive cases per 100 tests now, as opposed to 20 and 5.2 a month ago.

With the numbers expected to sharply shoot up — the NCT government estimates 5.5 lakh infected by end-July — the Centre has written to the state government to include rapid antigen testing, though the ICMR has restricted their use to specific cases, and that too only in containment areas and healthcare facilities. There are close to 240 containment zones in Delhi at the moment.

A rapid antigen kit made by South Korean company SD Biosensor has been approved for use.

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