Punjab Government allows private hospitals/clinics/labs to conduct Rapid Antigen Testing for COVID-19 after empanelment

· Private labs to strictly maintain the confidentiality of patient data

CHANDIGARH: With a view to strengthen screening of the population for timely detection of corona virus positive patients to contain the spread of pandemic, Punjab Government has decided to allow private hospitals/clinics/labs to conduct Rapid Antigen Testing (RAT) for COVID-19 after empanelment with District Health Authorities.

Giving details in press release, the Health Minister Mr. Balbir Singh Sidhu said that guidelines have been issued to all the Deputy Commissioners and Civil Surgeons of State regarding allowing Rapid Antigen Testing for COVID -19 by private health establishments. He said that RAT kits would be provided free of cost by the department. The Civil Surgeons will empanel those private hospitals/clinics/labs who are willing to get empanelled voluntarily for offering testing by RAT kits provided free of cost by the Department.

The Minister said that the private hospitals/labs can charge maximum Rs. 250 from the patients, in case the kits have been provided by the health department. Earlier, rate of Rapid Antigen Testing (RAT) has been reduced for private labs from Rs 1000 to Rs 700 inclusive of GST and other taxes  those have been using their own RAT kits.  The private hospitals/labs will follow SoPs  for use of RAT kits provided free of cost by the Department of Health and Family Welfare. 

Highlighting Standard Operating Procedures for the RAT, Mr. Sidhu said that the private hospitals/clinics and labs should have a separate isolated area for the suspected patients of COVID-19 where sample will be taken. The person taking samples will ensure complete Personal Protective Gear. The institution should have an arrangement of biomedical waste management generated by the test as per the guidelines.

 The Minister clarified that all rapid antigen test results are entered into the ICMR portal using the login ID credentials provided by the health department. For all Asymptomatic High-risk Contact of positive case and symptomatic persons, who are negative by rapid antigen test, another NP/ OP swab to be collected in Virus Transport Medium (VTM) should be sent to the identified real-time RT-PCR laboratory for COVID-19 testing as soon as possible. The private hospital shall arrange the required logistics for such samples pack them and send to the RT-PCR testing Lab. The same can be sent to nearest Government Health facility as per protocol. He said that the samples sent by empanelled private hospitals/clinics shall be tested free of cost at Government Labs.

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