Delhi High Court
The Delhi High court on Thursday directed Central government to file a fresh affidavit before the next date of hearing placing on record preliminary results relating to the Sero- Surveillance Study by National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).
The affidavit filed by by NCDC as directed by the court through its last order stated that the Sero-surveillance Study is under way and it will take one more week to declare the preliminary results. It was further stated that the Anti Body Detection test is utilized during Sero-survey Studies to assess the prevalence of infection at the community level and its primarily used for evidence based public health response.
The order by the bench comprising Justice Hima Kohli and Justice Subramonium Prasad came while hearing a plea by advocate Rakesh Malhotra, on increasing the testing numbers in the national capital and getting speedy results.
The next date of hearing is on 27 July.
The court has also asked ICMR to clarify its stand with regard to the timeline granted to the applicants/private hospitals in Delhi for completing the requisite formalities for being granted approval for conducting the RAT tests.
ICMR also filed an affidavit stating that in terms of the additional advisory dated 23 June issued by the ICMR, all hospitals and laboratories and State Governments intending to perform Rapid Point of Care (POC) Antigen Detection Test must be registered with the ICMR to enable them to obtain the log in credentials for data entry.
It was further stated that as on 14 July, the ICMR had received applications from 60 private hospitals in Delhi, of which 28 applications have been approved for conducting the RAT test and 6 of the applicants were previously granted approvals for conducting the RT PCR tests.
It has also been clarified that approval granted for conducting RT PCR test automatically applies for conducting the RAT test.
In all, a total of 34 laboratories have been approved by the ICMR in Delhi for conducting the RAT test and 26 applications are still pending on account of procedural formalities required to be completed by the applicants, it said
The court was informed by ASG Chetan Sharma appearing for ICMR as to how much time has been granted by the ICMR to the remaining 26 applicants for completing the procedural formalities, he stated that they have been given a window of one month for this.
“Considering the fact that as on 15 July, there are total 1,16,993 cases of COVID-19 infection in Delhi out of which 17,807 are active cases and there are 653 containment zones as of today, in our opinion the window of one month given by the ICMR for the applicants to complete the procedural formalities, is too long.” It was added.
The court was also told that the laboratories have to approach the National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories (NABL) for it to conduct an inspection before completing the requisite formalities.
The court said that it is appropriate that NABL should hasten the inspection, so that the applicants can complete the formalities required by the ICMR at the earliest.
NABL has also been asked to file an affidavit before the court.
Delhi government also filed an affidavit stating the number of RAT tests undertaken in Delhi since 18 June till 15 July, reflects that 2,81,555 RAT tests were conducted and 19,480 persons were found to be COVID positive. The follow up of the RT PCR test was conducted on 1,365 persons, who were found to be positive/symptomatic but had otherwise been declared as COVID negative in the RAT test. Out of aforesaid 1,365 persons, who had undertaken the RT PCR test, 243 persons had turned out to be COVID positive.
The court enquired from Delhi government’s counsel as to why is there such a variation in the figures of the testing done through RT PCR mode when those found positive in the RAT test are to the tune 19,480.
He explained that once a person is tested through the RAT and found to be positive, he or she is then taken to be a COVID true positive patient and no further follow up test through RT PCR is required to be conducted. It is only in the case of those patients, who are found to be symptomatic and turn out to be negative in the RAT test, that they are required to undergo the RT PCR gold standard test. Hence, the variation in the figures.
The court further allowed the petitioner to file an affidavit in response to the previous affidavits and the current affidavit filed by the Delhi government to point out the disparity in the numbers.