Govt. meeting today with V.K. Paul-led expert committee to sharpen strategy
Almost a week after Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal announced that the number of daily COVID-19 tests would be doubled from 20,000 to 40,000 within a week, the average number of tests is still in the range of 20,000, according to the State government data.
Mr. Kejriwal had made the announcement on August 26 after chairing a meeting on the upward trend in COVID-19 cases in the city.
However, in the next six days, the average number of daily tests was only 20,837, according to data from the official government bulletins. This is slightly higher than the average daily tests in July —19,684.
When contacted, a Delhi government spokesperson said: “We are increasing the number of tests and have reached around 25,000 tests in a day. We will attain 40,000 in the coming days.” Delhi has been witnessing a spike in the number of COVID-19 cases for the past 10 days with Tuesday reporting the highest number of new COVID-19 cases in the last 59 days.
An official said the government is expected to form a strategy on how to increase the testing in a meeting with an expert committee on Wednesday.
“There is a meeting with an expert committee headed by V.K. Paul (Member, NITI Aayog) tomorrow [Wednesday]. The number of tests cannot be randomly increased. The idea is to break the chain and control the virus and for it, we will have to know whom to test or which areas to target and these have to be decided scientifically. We will have a clearer picture after tomorrow’s meeting,” a Delhi government official told The Hindu.
The government is also considering whether testing can be done from Mohalla clinics to increase the number of tests but is yet to take a decision.
“We are looking at whether testing can be done from Mohalla clinics during its working hours. If it is not possible, we are also considering whether we can conduct testing from the premises after the clinics close at 2 p.m.,” another government official said.
Multiple district officials said they were yet to get any directions from the government on the increasing testing. Health Minister Satyendar Jain had said last week that the government would aggressively track each positive case and test their contacts to increase the daily tests from 20,000 to 40,000.
The decision to increase testing had become controversial with the Delhi government last week alleging that the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) was putting pressure on Delhi government officials to not increase the number of COVID-19 tests in the city, a claim which was rubbished by the MHA, which termed it as “false and baseless”.