Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Monday, November 23, launched a series of mobile laboratories that will conduct free COVID-19 tests in Delhi.
According to a report by the Economic Times, the laboratories will conduct RT-PCR (Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction) tests for the coronavirus infection and would give the results in six to eight hours.
The reports have mentioned that the testing laboratories have been jointly set up by the government and SpiceHealth, part of the airline group SpiceJet.
An official spokesperson stated that the mobile vans would conduct free tests in and around the national capital and will provide the test results in six to eight hours. The cost of the test, which is ₹499, would be borne by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).
The RT-PCR test which is regarded as the most accurate COVID-19 test globally, costs as high as ₹2,400.
SpiceHealth, in a statement, said that it will be setting up a number of portable testing facilities across the country to make the highly sensitive RT-PCR testing readily accessible to the masses to keep a check on the rising infections.
Detailing about the efficiency, it stated that the laboratory can process up to 3,000 test reports per day and has been initiated in collaboration with the apex medical body in the country.
In the first phase, as many as 20 laboratories in different parts of the country would be set up and each testing facility would be capable of processing 1,000 tests in a day. The testing would be reportedly conducted in collaboration with departments of the Centre and the respective state governments.
"First phase is largely meant for Delhi, and since these laboratories are mobile these will be deployed at different locations that will be identified based on the testing requirement of the national capital," said Dr Rajnikant Srivastava, spokesperson, ICMR, reported Hindustan Times.
"This is an effort to ensure Covid-19 testing is not just accessible but affordable to masses. ICMR has already relaxed criteria for COVID-19 testing, and it is practically available on-demand to minimise the number of infected people," he added.
Additionally, it has also been stated that the testing kits, as well as the laboratory facilities, have been certified by the ICMR and the mobile laboratories have been accredited by National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories (NABL).
Amid the spurt in coronavirus cases in Delhi, Union Home Minister Amit Shah took the lead in ramping up medical infrastructure and formulating a new strategy to combat the COVID-19 surge in the national capital.
Delhi has been witnessing a massive surge in the coronavirus cases since October 28 when the everyday infections breached the 5,000 mark for the first time. It crossed the 8,000-mark on November 11.
According to the data revealed by the Union Health Ministry, at least five persons died due to COVID-19 every hour on an average in the national capital in the last 24 hours.
It is important to note that a total of 511 COVID-19 deaths were recorded across the country in the past 24 hours while Delhi accounted for the largest chunk of such deaths with 121 fatalities.
With 5,34.317 total confirmed cases and over 37,000 positive infections, the national capital has also been witnessing a shortage of beds. The Delhi Corona app stated that just 136 ICU (Intensive Care Unit) with ventilators were available out of the city's 1,411 till Monday afternoon.
Meanwhile, the availability of ICU beds without ventilators stood 500 out of 2,749.
According to India Today, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal spoke to Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the latter's meeting with chief ministers on the coronavirus situation across states.
The publication pointed out that the Chief Minister informed PM Modi on the recent third wave of coronavirus infections in Delhi and also sought an additional 1,000 ICU beds from the Centre.
CM Kejriwal stated that since November 11, the city has been reporting a steady spike in the number of cases. He also mentioned that several factors including pollution have been contributing to the rise in infections.
"Since then, fresh coronavirus cases and positivity rate have been decreasing steadily. We hope this trend continues," the Chief Minister said in the meeting with PM Modi.
CM Kejriwal sought PM Modi's intervention to get rid of air pollution caused by stubble burning in adjoining states and reportedly sought reservation of 1,000 additional ICU beds in central government hospitals till the third wave lasts in Delhi.
The Delhi government has also been taking extensive measures to control and curb the spread of the coronavirus outbreak. Ramping up the testing facilities, on Sunday, it launched large-scale RT-PCR testing drive from the Old Rajinder Nagar area with mobile COVID-19 testing vans.