Of 330 COVID test centres in the city, only 226 mentioned on govt. site; not all mohalla clinics are testing

To check the ease of getting a COVID-19 test done in the city, The Hindu visited a government dispensary and a mohalla clinic in Delhi and found that around 150 people were tested at the dispensary daily, while the particular mohalla clinic was not testing for COVID-19.

At the dispensary, most of the people were satisfied with the facilities, but some complained that the waiting time was long.

Details missing

The information of government testing centres is available on a government website “www.delhifightscorona.in”, if a person wants to find out where they can get a COVID-19 test done.

However, the list is incomplete as it has details of only nine of the total 11 districts. Even for these centres there is no Google Map location, phone number, or timing of the centres.

Also, there are a total of around 330 testing centres in the city, but only 226 were mentioned on the website. Though selected mohalla clinics are doing COVID-19 tests, almost all of them, with an exception of a few, were not mentioned on the list. Of the 400 functional mohalla clinics, over 50-60 have been conducting COVID-19 tests after OPD consultation is over, according to the Delhi government. A government spokesperson did not respond to queries.

The government following a High Court is expected to come out with a map with locations of all testing centres later this week, officials said.

With virus cases on the rise and private diagnostic centres taking at least 24 hours to provide available slots, many people are now lining up outside mohalla clinics to get themselves tested.

Ayan Khan of a private diagnostic centre in South Delhi said, “We provide a facility for home collection of samples. However, one needs to make an appointment at least a day prior to the testing. The results are then available usually between 24-48 hours. Most requests that we have been getting are from people who want to get themselves tested before a scheduled trip outside the city.”

Ground reality

At a New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) dispensary in Sarojini Nagar in central Delhi, the in-charge said that around 150 people are tested every day. At 1.30 p.m., there were around 25 people either waiting for results or to get tested.

“We have been testing from June 18 and we function from 9.30 a.m. to 3.30 p.m. People will have to come with a photo ID card and take a token and wait their turn for testing,” Mohammad Salamuddin, in-charge of the centre said.

As a woman asked whether she could take the token and come back later, he replied, “You can’t take a token and go home, you’ll have to wait here. People get angry over these things. We had to call the police thrice to control the crowd.”

While Nithin Kumar, 32, who came to an office in the same complex to get a birth certificate for his brother’s newborn son, decided to test for the virus just to know whether he is safe, another person waiting for the result said that he wanted the report to submit at a five-star hotel he was working.

Meanwhile, in south Delhi, Sudhir Kumar, a private sector employee, however, found himself in need for an alternative mohalla clinic as the one he reached in Kalkaji was not a testing centre.

The 35-year-old said, “For the last few days some of my family members were showing a few symptoms. To be on the safe side, I thought of getting tested myself as well. However, I was unaware that all mohalla clinics are not COVID-19 testing centres and now I will have to look for another one. I came to this particular one as it was the most conveniently located for me.”

Staff unavailability

A staff member at the mohalla clinic said that due to unavailability of required mohalla clinic assistants, testing for COVID-19 had not begun at the clinic yet.

“Due to a few logistical issues, COVID-19 testing has not started yet in this particular clinic. However, there are several others, including ones in Govindpuri and Giri Nagar, where people can go and get themselves tested. All that they need is an Aadhaar card and they can walk in and get a rapid antigen test done,” the mohalla clinic worker said.

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