New Delhi: 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 six lakh 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.
Those who came to get themselves tested at a centre in Sunlight Colony in southeast Delhi said the entire process took only about an hour. The centre started operating at 10 am by around 5 pm as many as 125 swab samples were collected, a healthcare worker said.
"After arriving here, we went to the registration desk. After waiting for about half-an-hour, we were for testing. The testing process took only five to seven minutes," Alex Samuel, 20, said, adding, "The authorities told us the results will be sent via SMSes on Friday."
A healthcare worker at the testing centre said each testing kit costs Rs 450 and can provide results within 30 minutes as compared to RT-PCR test that takes three to four hours.
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.
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.