ICMR norms a 'roadblock' in bumping up Covid-19 tests: Delhi govt

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Home / India News / ICMR norms a ‘roadblock’ in bumping up Covid-19 tests: Delhi govt

The Delhi government, which last week made its testing guidelines tighter than those mandated by the Indian Council of Medical Research, blamed, on Saturday, the latter for coming in the way of efforts to increase the Capital’s Covid-19 testing rate.

“The ICMR guidelines act as a roadblock in increasing the testing rate. AAP [Aam Aadmi Party] has requested the union to do away with the cap on testing for accurate detection of Corona positive cases in the city,” read a tweet from the party’s official Twitter handle.

A photograph along with the tweet read, “Why do we need ICMR guidelines to restrict testing? Why should there be any kind of government control on testing? Covid test should be done just like any other test – Sugar, Malaria, Typhoid.”

Delhi health minister Satyendar Jain, in a video address on Saturday, said, “The ICMR guidelines need to be altered for testing to increase. Right now, testing can be done as per the ICMR guidelines only – in Delhi and across the country. And the guidelines clearly mention who should be tested and who should not be tested. Testing can be opened for all if the ICMR guidelines allow. On the flip side, the number of people opting to get tested will shoot up.”

An ICMR official clarified that states are free to tweak their own guidelines for Covid-19 testing depending on their local requirements, provided there is no drastic shift from the guiding policy.

The Delhi government modified its testing criteria on June 2, to make it more restrictive than ICMR guidelines allow. It excluded asymptomatic contacts of a positive patient if they weren’t old or did not have known co-morbidities such as diabetes, hypertension, and cancer. This was overturned by Delhi Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal in his capacity as the chairperson of the Delhi Disaster Management Authority on June 8.

To be sure, Delhi has one of the highest Covid-19 testing rates in the country.

The health minister also said the government is yet to take a decision on whether prices for Covid-19 treatment in private hospitals should be capped, although Hindustan Times learns that it is working in that direction as indeed a few other states have done.

The government , in an order on June 4, asked private hospitals treating Covid-19 patients to provide a list of their charges for various facilities.

“All hospitals have been asked to share the rates they are charging for Covid-19 treatment. We will decide what to do after observing the rates of every hospital,” Jain said on Saturday.

The Delhi high court on Friday refused to issue directions on a plea that sought to prevent overcharging by private hospitals and refusal of treatment due to lack of funds.

Commenting on the discrepancy in the number of Covid-19 deaths in the state , with the Delhi government’s daily health bulletin giving one number and the city-state’s three municipal corporations, another , Jain said, “If the MCDs have the details of the casualties, it should send it to the Delhi government rather than sending it out to the media. All deaths are counted as per the reports received from all the hospitals. The work of the death audit committee is not to fabricate the data of deaths. As and when they receive the death count, they are reported and released. There may be a delay in obtaining the data, but there is no delay in the committee’s part in releasing it.”

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