Punjab to ramp up corona tests ten times

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Chandigarh, April 8 (IANS) The Punjab government on Wednesday announced ramping up its Covid-19 testing capability by ten times with the procurement of 5 RTPCR and 4 RNA extraction machines at a cost of Rs 2.31 crore, and is also preparing to launch rapid testing from April 10 to check the spread of the contagion.

While 10 lakh Rapid Testing Kits, already ordered from ICMR, are awaited, the state government has also floated inquiry in the open market for another 10,000 kits, according to Additional Chief Secretary Vini Mahajan, adding that antibody testing through Rapid Testing Kits has also now been allowed by ICMR in hotspots to check community spread of the coronavirus.
With the new equipment, the testing capacity of the Viral Research Diagnostic Labs (VRDL) in Government Medical Colleges in Patiala and Amritsar has gone up to 400 each from the existing 40, said Mahajan, adding that together these two labs have so far tested 1,958 samples.
In addition, the Guru Gobind Singh Medical College and Hospital in Faridkot has been put on fast-track for testing approval. It will have initial capacity of 40 tests per day.
Apart from state’s own labs, the PGI in Chandigarh has also been carrying out about 40 tests daily of samples from Punjab. About 650 tests have been carried out by the PGI till date.A
The state government has also sought urgent approvals from the government of India for allowing similar testing facilities at DMC and CMC Hospitals in Ludhiana.
Both the Ludhiana hospitals have already acquired the necessary equipment and applied for the NABL certification after which ICMR approval would be sought, said Mahajan.
Samples are being collected by the Health Department teams from various districts of Punjab, which now has 106 confirmed COVID-19 cases.