The Delhi High Court on Monday directed the Delhi Government to ensure that the accredited labs in Delhi, which are testing samples for COVID19 infection, should be giving reports within a period of 24/48 hours.
The Division Bench of Justice Hima Kohli and Justice Subramonium Prasad has further directed the Delhi Government to ensure that its website is continually updated to regularly reflect the correct number of tests that are being conducted for COVID-19 in Delhi, mention the number of cases that are positive or negative and state the number of results that are pending after the tests are conducted.
The order has come in a PIL filed by Rakesh Malhotra seeking expeditious furnishing of reports after conducting tests for the infection of COVID19 virus.
The Petitioner argued that both the Delhi Government as well as the Central Government has not taken expeditious steps to furnish reports after conducting tests for COVID19 on suspected people, within a reasonable period of 48 hours or even earlier.
The said delay, as per the Petitioner, further pushes the process of contact tracing which leads to rapid multiplication of the virus in the city.
By citing the Twitter handle of the Chief Medical Officer, Delhi, the Petitioner pointed out:
'...on 28.04.2020, 3295 results were pending which has mounted to 3793 as on 30.4.2020. The aforesaid Twitter account is not being updated thereafter and in the meantime, there have been several cases reported by the daily newspaper, Time of India wherein it has been stated that over the past one month, the number of swab samples pending for tests in Delhi, which started with 470 on 01.4.2020, has gone up by 7 times and mounted to 3295, on 29.4.2020.'
Mr Satyakam, who appeared for the Delhi Government, submitted that on April 29, an order was issued by the Health and Family Welfare Department of the Delhi Government that which states that till 03.05.2020, no sample shall be sent to NIB, Noida due to the delay in forwarding the reports, spreading over 15 days.
The said order further states that samples shall be distributed among other government and private labs to ensure that the reports are received within one day from the date of submission to the respective labs.
At this point, the Petitioner pointed out that the said order only refers to the period ending on May 03, and doesn't talk about the period thereafter.
While informing the court that the said order shall continue for two more weeks, Mr Satyakam also submitted that there are 23 accredited labs that undertake COVID -19 testing in Delhi. Out of the said 23 accredited labs, 10 are in the public sector and 13 are in the private sector. The collective capacity of the aforesaid labs is 3000-3500 tests per day.
He further submitted that now onwards, reports of testing will be received within 1-2 days from the date the sample is received by the concerned lab.
The Delhi Government also apprised the court of the following updated data on testing:
'Till the night of 03.05.2020, 3,790 reports are stated to be pending with the accredited labs and the said reports shall be received by today or maximum, by tomorrow. Moreover, as on 02.5.2020, 9,226 reports were pending, but the said figure has considerably reduced to 3790, as on 03.5.2020 which itself reflects that the State Government is cognizant of the delay in receiving reports and has dealt with the said situation without losing time.'
After taking these submissions into record, the court expressed satisfaction with the remedial measures taken up by the Delhi Government to expedite receipt of reports for testing patients for COVID-19 infection
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