The Delhi government commenced Covid-19 testing through the rapid antigen methodology at 169 centres in and around containment zones of the city on Thursday.
A total of 341 teams are involved in the rapid-antigen testing which makes results available within 30 minutes, an official said.
According to Union minister G Kishan Reddy, the Centre plans to conduct 600,000 rapid antigen tests at these 169 facilities.
An official said around 50,000 tests were expected to be conducted on Thursday.
Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal tweeted, “Two important things happened today. Covid-19 testing rates in Delhi have been reduced to Rs 2,400 and rapid-antigen testing has started. I hope people won’t face any problem in getting themselves tested now.”
At many centres, testing began as early as 9 am. People, having mild symptoms or no symptoms at all can get themselves tested, another official said.
The kits, called Standard Q Covid-19 Ag detection, have been developed by South Korean company S D Biosensor. The testing method involves looking for antibodies which are produced when the body is exposed to a pathogen.
If a person has antibodies associated with novel coronavirus, it means the person is either Covid-19 positive or has recovered.
“It is an easy and cheaper method to detect asymptomatic cases,” another healthcare worker said.
According to the Indian Council of Medical Research, suspected individuals who test negative for Covid-19 by rapid-antigen test should undergo RT-PCR test to rule out the infection. While positive test results should be considered as true positive and do not need reconfirmation by RT-PCR test, it said.
The Ministry of Home Affairs on Monday said that testing will be tripled by Saturday.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah favoured a unified strategy for Delhi and NCR to tackle the coronavirus pandemic and said the suburbs like Gurgaon, Noida and Ghaziabad can’t be separated from the national capital in this battle.
Shah conveyed this message at a meeting with officials he chaired to review the Covid-19 situation in Delhi and the National Capital Region (NCR), amidst increasing number of Covid-19 cases.
In view of the structure of Delhi-NCR region, all concerned bodies need to unite and work on a common strategy against the coronavirus pandemic. In this context, I met with Delhi Chief Minister and senior officials of Center and Delhi-NCR today to discuss how to evolve a strategy as soon as possible, Shah tweeted.
Authorities of Haryana, UP and Delhi have imposed restrictions at different times during the Covid-19 lockdown over movement of people between the states, leading to inconvenience to many.
On Wednesday, Delhi recorded 2,414 fresh coronavirus cases, the highest single-day spike here, taking the tally in the city over the 47,000-mark, while the number of deaths from the disease climbed to 1,904.
Last week, the Delhi government, which is scrambling to find beds for coronavirus patients, warned that there could be 5.5 lakh cases by the end of July – something it is not prepared to deal with. Hospitals will need at least 80,000 more beds, the government cautioned.