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Antigen test not 100 p

c accurate: High Court
Shillong, Aug 25: The Meghalaya High Court has said that the efficacy of the Rapid Antigen Test is not 100 per cent accurate.
The division bench of the High Court was hearing the public interest litigation (PIL) filed by the High Court of Meghalaya Bar Association regarding the Covid-19 situation in the State.
During the hearing held yesterday, the High Court took up the matter with regard to testing by private hospitals where the Health Department stated in its affidavit that H Gordon Robert Hospital, Bethany Hospital and Woodland Hospital are conducting Antigen Test and that Nazareth Hospital has started the CBNAAT (RT-PCR based) testing facility.
“The efficacy of the Rapid Antigen Test is not 100 per cent accurate as has been reported and also recorded by the High Court of Delhi in its order dated 27.07.2020 in WP(C) No. 3031/ 2020 (Rakesh Malhotra vs. Government of National Capital Territory of India & Ors.),” the Meghalaya High Court said.
“The gold standard test it seems which is affirmed by the experts, is the RT-PCR Test which correctly indicates infection if any,” the High Court added.
It also said that in this situation and keeping in mind the imminent possibility of the occurrence of a community spread of Covid-19 pandemic especially in Shillong city, it would therefore be expedient for other private hospitals and health institutions to equip themselves with the CBNAAT (RT-PCR based) testing facility as was done by Nazareth Hospital.
On the issue of establishment of a plasma bank, the Health Department stated in the affidavit that the same has been put in motion at NEIGRIHMS, which has already procured an ‘apheresis’ machine which is required for separation of blood components to start a plasma bank.
The affidavit also stated that NEIGRIHMS is awaiting the engineer for installation of the machine and the license to operate the plasma bank.
The High Court has asked Kaustav Paul, who is also the standing counsel for NEIGRIHMS, to inform the court on the status of the plasma bank at the next hearing on September 7.
The Health Department also in its affidavit on the question of the unfortunate incident of the death of the baby in Ganesh Das Hospital, informed the High Court that the State government has constituted an Expert Committee on August 4 to be chaired by the Director of Health Services, (MI) to examine the matter and submit the report within two weeks.
Advocate General Amit Kumar told the court that the report has not yet been received and assured to place the same before the court on the next date.
Meanwhile, the Deputy Inspector General, BSF, Meghalaya Frontier in his affidavit filed before the High Court stated the standard operating procedure (SOP) put in place to deal with Covid-19 which the BSF said is as per the guidelines circulated by the Ministry of Home Affairs.
“However, it is noted and has also been pointed out by the learned counsels that the SOP does not mandate testing before entry into the State and the personnel are tested by Rapid Test only when they have reached their destinations, and thereafter are accordingly processed in case they test positive or negative. This, it is submitted, can give rise to the spread of the virus, inasmuch as it is being brought into the State, as there is no pre-testing before entry,” the High Court said.
Secondly, for the returnees coming to Shillong with their families, as per the SOP, they have been directed to make their own arrangements to register and undergo the process prescribed by the State government, whereas, for other returnees of the BSF, quarantine centres are available and guidelines and protocols issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs and Force Headquarters, New Delhi are being followed.
“By this procedure, it seems, the other returnees with families are left to fend for themselves without any support from their organisation. This in the opinion of this Court is unacceptable, inasmuch as, all personnel whether married or unmarried are serving in the BSF, and they cannot be given dissimilar treatment. The Assam Rifles on the other hand, also a paramilitary organisation unlike the BSF in their affidavit, have clearly stated that quarantine facilities have been created at Shillong for all troops, families and dependents and the ICMR guidelines are strictly adhered to. It is therefore expected that the respondent No. 12 (BSF) immediately correct the procedure and ensure uniformity in the implementation of guidelines and protocol to all its personnel irrespective of their marital status,” the High Court said.
Another aspect which has been flagged by the parties during the hearing at the High Court is whether prior testing be done, of the personnel before they enter the State, or they be subjected to compulsory testing at the entry points.
This observation is being made in view of the fact that as per the order issued by the State government dated 25.05.2020, the State government has exempted the armed forces and Central Military Forces from being tested at the entry points set up by the State government.
“As we have been informed by the learned counsel of the respondents No. 12 & 13 that meetings have been held between the State authorities and the Armed Forces/CAPF in connection with the movement and transit of Armed Forces/CAPF personnel, it is expected that this matter be taken up and decision arrived at the earliest in such a meeting and the same reported back to this Court,” the High Court said.