After a delay of nearly one month, the Punjab government is finally set to launch the RT-PCR mobile sample collection facility for Covid-19 this week.
The 26 mobile vans the state health department had hired for the purpose a month back were not deployed for testing due to a decision taken by the high-ups. “The vans will have technical staff and will move in areas like marketplaces, vegetable markets, and villages to collect samples of all symptomatic people. Nothing will be charged for this. We are going to launch the facility in a couple of days,” said Dr Rajesh Bhaskar, state health department’s nodal officer for Covid-19.
The vans will collect nasopharyngeal and oropharyngeal swabs that will be sent to a testing facility.
“It will help the staff collecting samples save time. Initially, the vans will operate for eight hours but the duration can be increased or decreased as per the requirement,” said the nodal officer.
For now, one van will be deployed in each district.
Why the delay?
Even as many states launched RT-PCR mobile testing in the last week of April, Punjab delayed it on the recommendations of a high-powered committee.
“We initially wanted to test the targeted population only. But with opening up of the lockdown, chances are that community spread will increase. It is the right time to launch this facility. There are chances of large-scale mutation of the virus now,” a senior health department official said.
Lack of trained technical staff is also said to be one of the reasons behind holding back the launch of the facility. “Temporary staff has been hired for the purpose. Technicians and laboratories are not an issue,” the official said.
195 cases in past one week
After a thaw for a few days, Punjab has once again started seeing rise in the number of coronavirus cases with 195 people found infected in the past one week.
Of the new patients, around 100 are those who came from other states or abroad and were in institutional quarantine.
On a positive note, the state continues to have the best recovery rate in the country at 87%. As per official figures, Punjab had 257 active cases on Monday.