PUNJAB CROSSES MILESTONE OF 20000 RT-PCR COVID TESTS ON MAY 2, TESTS PER MILLION RISE EXPONENTIALLY TO DOUBLE IN 1 WEEK

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Chandigarh, May 3 (Punjab Mail)- The Punjab Government on Saturday completed a milestone in its fight against Covid, with the total number of RT-PCR tests crossing the 20,000 mark, even as the state geared up to add more lab and testing facilities in the days ahead.

Good capacity increased by the Medical Education Department and the Health Department has helped the state scale up its testing to 1500 a day, which Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh has further directed to be ramped up to 6000 a day by mid-May, to cope with the rush of migrants and other Punjabis expected to return home in the coming daus.

The increased testing has led to exponential increase in the Tests Per Million, said ACS Vini Mahajan (IC and DGR&PG), disclosing that the state had tested 10,000 samples by April 25, and thereafter successfully conducted an additional 10,000 tests in just 7 days to complete 20,000 tests by May 2.

To further increase the testing capacity in the State, a proposal has been sent to GoI to set up 4 new labs in the District Hospitals at Barnala, Roopnagar, Ludhiana and Hoshiarpur. Additionally, a proposal to procure 15 TruNaat machines has been moved, and the State is also considering to start the CBNaat testing in Patiala and Faridkot, said Mahajan.

The Department of Health & Family Welfare has also set up 225 Flu corners have been set up across the state in District Hospitals (DH), Sub-Divisional Hospitals (SDH), Community Health Centres (CHCs) and Primary Health Centres (PHCs), for the purpose of enhanced surveillance. Of these, 225 Flu corners, 22 DH flu corners, 41 SDH, 45 CHCs and 3 PHCs in the state are collecting samples for RT-PCR testing.

Further, said Mahajan, in order to facilitate the screening, 379 Rapid Response Teams (RRTs), comprising Medical officers/Multi-purpose Health Workers/Staff Nurses have been deployed to conduct active surveillance and identification of people with Influenza like Symptoms(ILI) or Severe Acute Respiratory Illness through house-to-house visits. The State has made use of innovative testing techniques such as use of Mobile Sample Collecting Kiosks, Pool Testing etc, and as on April 30,5788 pooled samples had been tested.

All the medical personnel have been given proper training to ensure smooth sample collection process. All required protective gear, such as, PPE Kits/N95 masks have been provided to all healthcare works to ensure their complete safety. In order to facilitate the screening, 379 Rapid Response Teams (RRT), comprising of Medical officers/Multi Purpose Health Workers/Staff Nurse have been deployed to conduct active surveillance and identification of people with Influenza like Symptoms(ILI) or Severe Acute Respiratory Illness by house-to-house visits.

The State has made use of innovative testing techniques such as use of mobile Sample collecting Kiosks, Pool testing etc. Pool testing has been started in the state to enhance the testing capacity. 5788 pooled samples have been tested as on 30th April, 2020.

Mahajan, who heads the Health Sector Response and Procurement Committee (HSRPC)  set up by the government to assist and guide the Departments of Health and Family Welfare and Medical Education and Research with management activities under COVID-19, said protective equipment was being provided to all the healthcare workers to ensure their complete safety. As on 28th April there are 26697 PPE kits and 85709 N 95 mask in stock. It may be noted that with 4 N95 masks manufacturers and 22 PPE kit manufacturers in the state receiving Government of India approval, the state is comfortably placed on getting these requirements met.

Other members of the Committee are Anirudh Tiwari PSF; Anurag Agarwal PSHFW; D.K. Tiwari PSMER; Rahul Kumar MD NHM; Ravi Bhagat Spl. Secy DGR&PG, along with medical experts Dr K. K. Talwar, Adviser to Govt of Pb. Med Education & Health  (Former Director PGI Chandigarh); Dr Raj Bahadur VC BFUHS; and Dr Rajesh Kumar (former HoD SPH PGI).

The Centre for Policy Research, Clinton Health Access Initiative and global experts are working with the Committee to prepare a scientific testing strategy for the state, apart from guiding on ramping up capacities.

 

Further, inspection and supervision committees have been set up and operationalized from Medical Colleges to Level 2 and Level 3 COVID-19 Care facilities. It may be noted that 85 facilities with 28340 beds have been identified for COVID Care Centers across the State for asymptomatic to mild case patients, and these will receive medical support from the Health Department. 3000 beds under Level 2 facilities are being operationalized directly by the Health Department in Phase 1. Phase 2 is planned to operationalize another 2000 beds under Level 2. Similarly 387 ICU/HDU beds and 131 ventilator beds are being earmarked for COVID requirements.


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