As the number of COVID-19 cases continues to surge in Punjab, the state has now decided to set up a plan of encouraging the people to walk in at any testing centre in Punjab and get themselves tested for the infection. The state has also distributed free testing kits to medical shops in order to increase sample collection.
While the state currently has an overall capacity of carrying out more than 20,000 tests in a day, the spike in fatality rates caused by COVID-19 has put the state under distress and the public is holding it responsible for delayed testing.
However, Punjab expects that 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," Singh added.
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 can pick up the samples from home or offer it over the counters.
Health Minister, Balbir Singh Sidhu stated 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.
The Health Minister 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, on Thursday, Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, who is presently under home isolation, 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 Rs 2,400 for RT-PCR tests and lowered the price of Rapid Antigen Testing (RAT) to Rs 700 inclusive of taxes which was priced at Rs 1,000 previously. However, private labs are going to fix their rates according to their convenience.
As of now, Punjab has tested 11,01,912 people and around 20,000 samples are being collected on a daily basis.