- Enquiry initiated against 7 private, one government lab
- All eight laboratories denied the accusations of delayed result, testing
- Nearly 2.3 lakh COVID tests conducted in Delhi so far
An inquiry is in progress against eight laboratories of Delhi for testing a large number of asymptomatic patients and delaying test results. The Delhi government has told the labs that this goes against the protocol of the Indian Council of Medical Research and it would not be sending samples to these labs until further orders.
The list include seven private labs and the prominent government lab NCDC (National Centre for Disease Control), all of which have denied the accusations.
The Delhi government has alleged that a lot of asymptomatic people, after testing positive, are occupying beds in private hospitals instead of going for home isolation. This has led to a shortage of beds for those who actually need them, the government said.
"Window shopping for beds has started from the day we launched the app. The actual people with necessities are few among these. We are getting numerous calls with demand for beds," said Delhi's Health Minister Satyendra Jain, referring to the "Delhi Corona" app, meant to help people find the status of total hospital beds and ventilators.
The minister said what worsened the situation was that some labs were delaying the coronavirus test results, which was causing great inconvenience to people. "Earlier too, they have been given strict guidelines to give report within 24 hours," he added.
The NCDC has responded to the government's showcause notice, saying the ICMR protocol applies to a collection center where individuals can get tested. The NCDC does not collect samples, they are sent in batches by various state governments, the lab pointed out.
The NCDC also said they do not take much time to provide results. There can be a delay if the pressure is high. But they have delivered test results even within six hours, the lab said.
The government has also accused the Central government-run RML hospital of giving 45 per cent erroneous results and delaying results for upto 31 days. The hospital issued a statement, saying there was a gap of 7 to 14 days when the resampling was done by Delhi government and that was why the positive results ended up showing negative later.
"They are doing quality checks with AIIMS and NCDC and our results are accurate," the statement read.
The RML also said they are dealing with more tests as they have more people coming from hotspots or clusters. The hospital claimed that they don't have any backlog of cases now. It happened earlier when kits were not available.
The Union Health Minister also criticised the Delhi government's allegation against RML and tweeted: "It is not right to do politics instead of controlling the spread of Corona. This will weaken India's fight against corona. Just for cheap promotion on TV Satyendar Jain should not blame a reputed institution. He should instead focus on improving Delhi's health services."
Until Wednesday, Delhi had conducted nearly 2.3 lakh tests in 15 government and 22 private laboratories. Delhi has been conducting over 11,000 tests per million much higher than the national average of 2,800 tests per million.