Ramp up coronavirus contact tracing: Punjab CM to Heath Dept

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Chandigarh, Nov 2 (PTI) Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Monday asked the state Health Department to expand contact tracing of coronavirus patients to 15 people per case amid apprehension of the second infection wave. Currently, the contact tracing of COVID-19 patients stands at 11 people per case.

In sharp contrast to some other states that are depending heavily on the “less reliable” rapid antigen testing (RAT), Amarinder Singh directed the department to make RT-PCR (reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction) the rule, with other test to be treated as an exception.

In a statement here, the CM also ordered another sero survey to assess the ground situation.

In other steps, he directed that a round the clock testing facility to be made available at district hospitals and all symptomatic patients undergo an RT-PCR test.

He stressed the need to make arrangements for walk-in testing at multiple points and asked the department to consider branching out testing by scaling up local initiatives like Mohali's outdoor testing.

The CM asked the department to get information from private and public hospitals regarding coronavirus related mortality and complete its audit by November 9 so that remedial action could be taken by mid-November.

Emphasising the importance of ensuring preparedness for a second wave, he asked the department to meet the manpower shortage, especially in level-II facilities by filling all gaps in mission mode.

Amarinder also warned against any complacency amid projections of a more severe second wave. He urged organisers of social and religious congregations to encourage the participants to get themselves tested.

He asked officials to discourage the use of firecrackers this Diwali season.

Noting that people are now relying on CT scans in a big way instead of getting themselves tested for coronavirus, the CM directed the department to ensure sharing of information regarding those coming for such scans with the health authorities.

The state government's health expert committee head, KK Talwar, earlier said unless checked, the practice of patients confining themselves to CT scans could be dangerous for the state.

Stressing the need for extreme caution and extensive testing so that the situation, which has improved in recent weeks, does not aggravate, the CM said the positivity rate had come down to around two per cent but the state could not afford to be lax under any circumstances.

He said his government had already sanctioned approximately Rs 900 crore for the COVID response and added that funds will not be allowed to become a constraint for ensuring full preparation and best response.

He directed the Health Department to increase testing to 30,000 a day, with at least 100 tests per lakh population. PTI CHS VSD RDK RDK