The Punjab government spokesperson said the move is aimed to encourage Covid-testing to check the surge in cases in the state. People who want their result immediately could opt for rapid antigen testing (RAT), while RT-PCR testing would also be available, he said.
The state will also explore if arrangements for RAT can be made by pharmacists and chemists, on the lines of private hospitals and doctors.
The decision was taken by Punjab chief secretary Vini Mahajan, who said the government would provide training and kits to private hospitals and doctors for the tests, which would be conducted on the basis of Aadhaar card and mobile numbers, without any questions asked or need for ‘parchis’.
With test results available through RAT in 30 minutes, it would 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 testing 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 the DCs to explore RAT 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 the private hospitals and chemists, etc could be uploaded on the government portal for further action, she added.
In another directive amid the surge in cases and deaths in Punjab, the chief secretary also instructed that 104 Helpline should provide real-time information on district-wise bed availability. She also directed the DCs and civil surgeons to ensure adequate supply of oxygen cylinders in their respective districts.