Rapid Antigen Tests to be available at all govt dispensaries, polyclinics

New Delhi: In a bid to make COVID-19 testing as accessible as possible, the Delhi government on Thursday directed all of its dispensaries and polyclinics in the city to offer services of Rapid Antigen Detection tests to residents on all working days between 9 am to 12 pm. The order, issued by the Delhi Directorate General of Health Services also said that this move is expected to help Delhi maintain a healthy testing rate of around 20,000 tests per day.

The Delhi government said that under the current circumstances, with around 2,500 new cases detected daily, "there are expected to be at least 7-8 direct and high-risk contacts (at home and workplace)". The rationale for allowing dispensaries and polyclinics to conduct tests, the order said, was to make contact tracing easier and faster.

The augmentation plan from the Delhi DGHS said that since these contacts could be any part of the city, depending on the patient's movements, testing facilities should be made available to them wherever closest to them. "Aggressive contact tracing and testing holds the key to ensure that infection is controlled in its tracks effectively," the plan read, adding that symptomatic patients who test negative on rapid antigen tests will be confirmed with an RT-PCR test.

The new testing plan also directs officials to conduct Rapid Antigen Testing for dialysis patients and patients who undergo non-surgical procedures as RT-PCR test results may not be available within a specific time.

A "Test-Track-Treat" strategy has been adopted to ensure early detection and containment of the pandemic. In continuation of various measures taken by the Delhi government, the order directs healthcare facilities both in the public and private sectors to ensure all individuals (ILI symptoms or asymptomatic) visiting their facility are tested by Rapid Antigen Testing.

The order also spells out how Special Surveillance Groups (SSGs) would be tested, and directed the District Commissioner of the Central district to run a campaign for testing auto drivers, rickshaw pullers and taxi drivers. "DC South East shall set up Rapid Antigen Testing camp in and around Kotla Mubarakpur near South Extension to ensure that the daily labourers/ mason workers are tested on priority," it added.

Moreover, the DCs of North and East districts have been directed to set up Rapid Antigen Testing Centres in Azadpur Mandi and Ghazipur Mandi to ensure vendors are tested frequently.

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