The Punjab government on Thursday said it has decided to allow free walk-in testing for COVID-19 in government hospitals and mobile vans to check the spread of the disease. People who want their results immediately can opt for Rapid Antigen testing, while RT-PCR (Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction) test option will also be available, an official statement said.
The state will also explore similar arrangements for Rapid Antigen testing by pharmacists and chemists on the lines of private hospitals and doctors, it said. The decision was taken by Chief Secretary (CS) Vini Mahajan, who said the government would provide training and kits to private hospitals and doctors for the tests, which will be allowed on the basis of Aadhar cards and mobile numbers.
With Rapid Antigen test results available in 30 minutes, this will lead to substantial increase in testing and early diagnosis and treatment, she said. Those who test positive through Rapid Antigen testing or are found symptomatic but negative can undergo RT-PCR tests for confirmation, the CS said.
Mahajan held a meeting with deputy commissioners and civil surgeons of Patiala, Bathinda, Amritsar, Ludhiana, Jalandhar and Mohali districts to review the COVID situation there. She also asked the DCs to explore Rapid Antigen testing options at private hospitals and pharmacies/chemist shops at a nominal manpower cost not exceeding Rs 250 per test, with proper training and kits to be provided by the government.
The test results and data so collected by private hospitals and chemists can be uploaded on the government portal for further action, she added. In another directive amid the surge in cases and deaths in Punjab, the CS has also instructed that the 104 helpline number should provide real-time information on district-wise bed availability.
She directed the DCs and the civil surgeons to ensure adequate supply of oxygen cylinders in their respective districts.