With the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) positivity rate – the proportion of samples that return positive among total tested – dipping below 2 per cent, Delhi health minister Satyendar Jain indicated on Wednesday that the city is unlikely to scale up testing.

“The World Health Organisation says that the tests should be scaled up till the positivity rate of less than 8 per cent is achieved. The positivity rate of 5 per cent is considered to be optimum, which means that a sufficient number of tests is being performed. Delhi has had a positivity rate of less than 3 per cent for five days in a row and less than 5 per cent for 15 days in a row. Right now, the positivity rate is about 2 per cent in Delhi. Let us wait and watch how long the positivity rate of 2 per cent is maintained,” said Delhi health minister Satyendar Jain, implying that the Delhi government is unlikely to increase the number of tests further.

After a meeting with Union home minister Amit Shah in mid-November, when Delhi was going through the third and the worst surge in Covid-19 cases, the government had decided to scale up the number of tests to between 100,000 and 120,000 a day.

On Tuesday, Delhi reported the highest number of tests conducted in a day – 85,105. Of these, almost half the tests were conducted using the more accurate RT PCR method. The daily number of tests has gone up from an average of 52,617 tests a day in the first week of November to 71,803 on average a day in the last seven days, as per the data shared by the Delhi government.

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The proportion of RT PCR tests has also gone up from 27.6 per cent in the first week of November to 47.9 per cent on an average during the last seven days.

As for hospitalisations with the viral infection, the minister said that around 50 per cent of the ICU beds were available in Delhi. However, in some of the big private hospitals, the occupancy of ICU beds remained at 80 per cent.

As per the Delhi government’s Corona app, on average only 34.8 per cent of the ICU beds – with or without ventilators – were occupied across hospitals as on Wednesday evening. The Delhi high court had asked the government to review its order reserving 80 per cent of the total ICU beds in 75 private hospitals for the treatment of Covid-19.

The HC had initially imposed a stay on the September 12 order reserving 80 per cent of ICU beds in 33 big private hospitals but later withdrew the stay with the surge in cases in November. Subsequently, the government ordered another 42 hospitals to reserve 80 per cent ICU beds.

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