The Delhi High Court directed the Delhi government on Monday to ensure that coronavirus samples sent to the accredited labs are processed swiftly and the results declared within 24-48 hours.
A bench of Justices Hima Kohli and Subramonium Prasad issued the direction on a plea by a lawyer, Rakesh Malhotra, seeking directions to the centre and the Delhi government to ensure swift testing of coronavirus or COVID-19 and declaration of results within 48 hours.
The bench also directed the Delhi government, represented by additional standing counsel Satyakam, that it "shall continue updating its website on a regular basis to 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".
With the directions, the court disposed of Mr Malhotra's plea in which he had contended that swift testing and declaration of results was necessary to identify the coronavirus patients in time and prevent community spreading of COVID-19.
During the hearing, Mr Satyakam told the bench that earlier there was a pendency in processing of samples and declaration of results as the samples were being sent to National Institute of Biologicals (NIB) in Noida where the testing process was slow.
Subsequently, he said, it was decided to send the samples to 23 accredited labs -- 10 public sector and 12 private -- in the national capital.
The labs have a collective capacity to process 3,000-3,500 tests per day and henceforth, reports of testing will be received within 1-2 days from the date the sample is received by the concerned lab, he told the court.
The Delhi government counsel also placed before the bench an order issued by the Health and Family Department in which it was observed that there was considerable pendency at NIB, Noida which was "hindering effective containment of the disease".
The department's order directed its officials not to send any sample to NIB, Noida for testing and the samples shall now be sent to government and private labs to ensure the results are received within a day.
Taking note of the submissions made Mr Satyakam, the court said: "We are satisfied that adequate remedial measures have been taken by the Delhi government to expedite receipt of reports for testing patients for COVID-19 infection."