Punjab allows free walk-in Covid-19 testing

Chandigarh, (Asian independent) Punjab on Thursday decided to allow free walk-in Covid testing in government hospitals and mobile vans, and similar testing at a nominal manpower cost not exceeding Rs 250 by private doctors and hospitals, to encourage increased Covid testing to check the surge in the number of cases in the state.

People who want their results immediately can opt for rapid antigen testing while RT-PCR testing will also be available.

The state will also explore similar arrangements for rapid antigen testing by pharmacists and chemists, on the lines of private hospitals and doctors.

The decision was taken by Chief Secretary Vini Mahajan, who said the government will provide training and kits to private hospitals and doctors for the tests, which will be allowed on the basis of Aadhaar card and mobile numbers, without any questions asked or need for ‘parchas’.

As RAT test results will be available in 30 minutes, this will lead to substantial increase in testing and early diagnosis and treatment, she said.

Those who test positive through RAT or are symptomatic but negative can be tested again through RT-PCR test for confirmation, said the Chief Secretary, while reviewing the Covid situation with the Deputy Commissioners and Civil Surgeons of Patiala, Bathinda, Amritsar, Ludhiana, Jalandhar and Mohali districts.

The Chief Secretary also asked them to explore RAT testing at private hospitals, pharmacies and chemist shops at a nominal manpower cost not exceeding Rs 250 per test. Proper training and kits to be provided by the government.

The test results and data so collected by private hospitals and chemists etc. can be uploaded on the government portal for further action, she added.

In another directive amid the surge in Covid cases and deaths in Punjab, the Chief Secretary instructed that the 104 helpline number should provide real-time information on bed availability district-wise.

Taking note of the widespread rumour mongering and fake news being spread on Covid, Mahajan called for elected representatives to step in and reach out directly to the people to clear their misconceptions on the issue.

Health Secretary Hussain Lal underlined the need for extensive sampling and testing in the five worst affected districts of Ludhiana, Jalandhar, Patiala, Mohali and Amritsar, with focus on the 40 plus age group.