Amid the rising COVID-19 cases, the Punjab government will distribute 50,000 COVID care kits free of cost to COVID-19 patients in hospitals and home isolation to ensure better care, Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh said on Monday, September 7.
The kit, costing ₹1,700 each, comprises of an oximeter, a digital thermometer, face mask and necessary medication. The kit would also include a steamer, a hand sanitiser, besides 60 giloy tablets, 30 Vitamin C and four Vitamin D3 tablets, a spokesperson said.
The step comes as a part of the state government's efforts to ensure that all patients get complete medical care at their doorstep, thus facilitating their recovery.
While the pulse oximeter will help the patients keep track of their oxygen levels, the patients have been prescribed the use of a steamer twice daily for 5-10 minutes, the spokesperson added.
Vitamin Zinc Zinconia 50 mg (30 tablets), Topcid 40 mg (14 tablets), Ammunity Plus Liquid 200 ml (Kahra), 15 tablets of Dolo 650 MG, multi-vitamin Supradyn Tablet (30 tablets), a Cough Syrup 100 ML, Betadyne gargles or salt Gargles, ten Cetirizine, and Tab Okacet would also be provided as part of the COVID care kit.
The patients will also be advised to add eight fresh Tulsi leaves every morning to their diet. Furthermore, patients would be advised to take 2 Giloy tablets daily in the morning for 30 days to boost immunity. Along with this, Vitamin C tablets have been prescribed twice each morning and evening for 15 days.
Meanwhile, the cough syrup has been added as an SOS measure and should only be taken in case of cough. Similarly, Dolo medicine should be taken only if fever is over 100 degrees Celsius.
In addition, 50 masks will also be provided, of which, one should not be used for more than eight hours.
Furthermore, the state has now decided to set up a plan in a bid to encourage people to walk in at any testing centre in Punjab and get themselves tested for COVID-19. In addition, the state has also distributed free testing kits to medical shops in order to increase sample collection.
While Punjab currently has an overall capacity of carrying out more than 20,000 tests daily, the spike in fatality rates caused by the virus has put the state under distress and the public is holding it responsible for delayed testing.
However, the state expects that the aggressive and rapid testing can throw some positive light and improve the situation in the state.
"We have 648 government and private testing centres, each providing a walk-in facility for the testing. We are asking everyone to test, test and test. We want to save lives," Health Minister Balbir Singh told The Indian Express.
"We have been observing that people are not forthcoming. They are delaying testing waiting for the symptoms to disappear. We are now launching an aggressive campaign in this direction," he added.
Last week, during a review meeting held by the state government on Thursday, chaired by Chief Secretary Vini Mahajan, the government announced it's plans of distributing free testing kits for private labs, medical centres and chemist shops where they could collect the samples from home or offer it over the counters.
These outlets are also allowed to charge a maximum of Rs 250 as a nominal manpower cost by private doctors and hospitals.
The health minister added that if an individual experiences any kind of symptoms, they are free to visit any medical centre since Punjab has an adequate infrastructure and testing facility. He added he will be visiting districts from Friday and personally requesting people to get tested.
Punjab has a total of 602 government-owned testing centres and around 45 private medical centres and labs.
"People do not need to bother whether the lab has the facility to test or not. We have an arrangement that they can give a sample and the report with reach them. That is why we have set up so many testing centres," the Minister added.
Meanwhile, last week, the CM released a voice message where he requested the residents of the state to get themselves tested if they experience any symptoms.
"We have a capacity of 25,000 tests everyday including RT-PCR, Rapid Antigen Test and Trunat Test," Sidhu said.
The government has introduced a fixed rate of ₹2,400 for RT-PCR tests and lowered the price of Rapid Antigen Testing (RAT) to ₹700 from ₹1,000 inclusive of taxes. However, private labs are allowed to fix their rates for the collection of samples from houses.
In the state, while the maximum testing centres are in Gurdaspur district with 100 centres, there are 55 centres in Jalandhar, 49 in Amritsar, 39 in Ludhiana, 33 in Hoshiarpur, and 31 in Fatehgarh Sahib, among other districts. Meanwhile, when it comes to private facilities, Ludhiana has the maximum centres at 11, followed by Mohali at 10, Jalandhar at 7, Amritsar at 3, and Patiala at one.
Meanwhile, the state government has also announced a three-month extension for all retiring doctors and specialists under the age of 60. The CM has also asked the Chief Secretary to speed up the process of recruitment of technicians and lab assistants to cope with the exponential demand amid the surging COVID-19 cases, reported The Indian Express.
While these doctors were earlier given extension till September 30, this has now been extended till December 31.
Furthermore, the CM also directed the formation of committees under the respective DCs to facilitate distribution of food packets to poor families under home isolation/quarantine. The move comes as an effort to encourage testing as these families often refrain from getting tested due to the fear of losing their meagre savings.
In addition, to ease the stress of COVID-19 patients in hospitals and at homes, the CM also announced a number of measures such as permitting coronavirus patients with special dietary requirements to be provided home food at government hospitals and the provision of equipment to facilitate videos calls between serious patients and their family members to alleviate their stress.