Punjab has decided to permit free walk-in testing in government hospitals and portable vans, and comparable testing at a nominal manpower cost not surpassing Rs 250 by private specialists and hospitals, to urge expanded Covid testing to check the surge in cases in the state.
The state may also discover related preparations for speedy antigen testing by pharmacists and chemists, on the traces of personal hospitals and doctors.
Those who want their result immediately can also opt for rapid antigen test (RAT), while RT-PCR test will also be available.
The decision was taken on Thursday by Chief Secretary Vini Mahajan, who said the government will provide training and medical 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 more documents. With test results available for RAT in 30 minutes, this will lead to a substantial increase in testing and early diagnosis and treatment, Ms Mahajan said.
Those who test positive via RAT or are symptomatic but negative can be tested again through RT-PCR test for confirmation, said the Chief Secretary while reviewing the COVID-19 situation with district commissioners and civil surgeons of Patiala, Bathinda, Amritsar, Ludhiana, Jalandhar and Mohali.
The test results and data collected by private hospitals and chemists can be uploaded on the government website for further action, Ms Mahajan said.
The Chief Secretary said the 104 helpline number will provide real-time information on bed availability district-wise, and directed the DCs and civil surgeons to ensure adequate supply of oxygen cylinders in their districts.
Taking note of rumours and fake news about COVID-19, Ms Mahajan asked elected representatives to step in and reach out directly to people to clear their misconceptions on the issue. She underlined the need to involve non-profits and other groups to spread awareness.