The Delhi government has issued a show-cause notice to several laboratories for testing asymptomatic patients for the novel coronavirus, in violation of the guidelines set by the Indian Council of Medical Research, India Today reported on Wednesday.

“By reviewing the data submitted by you in the ICMR portal and the H&FW [Health and Family Welfare] department, it has been observed that a large number of asymptomatic patients were tested without following the ICMR protocol on May 30 and 31,” the notice reads. The notice has been set to seven private labs and the prominent government laboratory National Centre for Disease Control, NDTV reported on Thursday.

All these private laboratories and NCDC have refuted the allegations. In its response to the notice, the centre told the Aam Aadmi Party government that the ICMR protocol applies to collection centres where individuals can get tested. As NCDC does not collect samples, it does not fall within the purview of the notice.

“How can the Delhi government send us a notice?” NCDC Director Dr Surjeet Singh said. “Under what authority? Does it even come under their purview? We test samples from across India. We have sent them a reply.”

The state government has also accused central-run Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital of giving 45% erroneous results and delaying results for up to 31 days. In a statement, the hospital said that the resampling the Delhi government carried out took seven to 14 days, and that is why the positive results showed up as negative later.

The AAP government has also alleged that many asymptomatic persons, after testing positive, occupy beds in private hospitals instead of going for home isolation. “Window shopping for beds has started from the day we launched the [Delhi Corona] app,” state Health Minister Satyender Jain said. “The actual people with necessities are few among these. We are getting numerous calls with demand for beds.”

Confederation of Medical Associations in Asia and Oceania President KK Agarwal wrote to Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal seeking the withdrawal of the notice. The letter accused the Delhi government of taking away the rights of asymptomatic patients. “That by not allowing the asymptomatic patients to undertake Covid-19 testing, it means the asymptomatic patient will not get proper treatment and soon all asymptomatic patient will become symptomatic patient,” the letter reads.

Delhi has so far reported 25,004 cases of the novel coronavirus, including 650 deaths. The government has eased restrictions on travel and allowed shops and establishments to open as part of the central government’s “Unlock 1” strategy, which came into force on June 1.

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