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Coronavirus: Punjab to launch rapid testing drive to screen 1 million people

Health Ministers of Punjab, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Puducherry through video conference on Wednesday evening, shared best practices adopted in their states to contain the spread of COVID-19.

Each State/ UT shared its strategy and apprehending future spike in COVID-19 cases agreed upon the need to scale up tracing and testing. Balbir Singh Sidhu, Health Minister, Punjab, appraised his counterparts that Punjab has ramped up testing capacity 10-fold with the procurement of requisite machines.

Punjab intends to launch a rapid testing drive aiming to screen one million people, he said. Gearing up for this, acquisition of 10 lakh Rapid Testing Kits (RTK) has been approved by the Punjab Cabinet and order for requisition of one lakh kits from ICMR has been placed. Besides, the testing capacity of Viral Research Diagnostic Labs (VRDL) in Government Medical Colleges at Patiala and Amritsar has been increased. Approval for testing at GMC, Faridkot, DMC and CMC, Ludhiana, has also been sought from Government of India, he added.

The Punjab Health Minister said modalities are being worked out for manufacturing PPE kits at Ludhiana which once operational would enable Punjab not just to meet its requirement but would have sufficient kits to supply to other states. Some of the Health Ministers suggested setting up of testing facility at every district headquarters, in case of exponential growth in COVID-19 cases. However, Punjab is expected to cope up the situation with GoI's approval to rope in GMC, Faridkot, DMC and CMC, Ludhiana, said Balbir Singh Sidhu.

So far, Influenza-like Illness (ILI) cases or those with international travel history or the contacts of COVID-19 patients are being screened but asymptomatic cases being found positive in different parts of the country is an alarming phenomenon which calls for better preparation, agreed all. Besides others, the Video Conference was attended by Manish Tewari, Shashi Tharoor (both MP) as well as Padma Bhushan Sam Pitroda.

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