Punjab CM gave the go-ahead for launching a pilot project for Covid-19 rapid antigen testing from the coming week

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Chandigarh: Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Friday gave the go-ahead for launching a pilot project for Covid-19 rapid antigen testing from the coming week, as well as e-registration for persons entering the state through the Shambhu border, to ensure strict monitoring of the thousands of people coming from the high-risk NCR region every day.

On successful completion of the pilot rapid antigen project, which will cover a minimum of 1000 tests, such testing would be done on the migrants coming back to the state in the wake of reopening of industries and for work in the paddy fields. The state government will procure rapid antigen testing kits to scale up its Covid testing capacity, which is even now higher than the Government of India mandate of 140 tests per million per day in regions with positivity factor of less than 10%. With positivity rate of just 2%, Punjab is already conducting 242 tests/million/day as part of its comprehensive strategy to check further spread of the pandemic.

Notwithstanding the Government of India’s revised guidelines replacing home quarantine for domestic travellers with self-monitoring, the Chief Minister ruled out any such move in Punjab in view of the large number of people coming to the state every day from Delhi/NCR, where cases were currently spiralling.

The Chief Minister also made it clear that no vehicle should be allowed to enter Punjab without a stringent monitoring mechanism in place. He was reviewing the Covid situation and preparedness in the state with senior government and health officials through a Video Conference meeting.

Chief Secretary Vini Mahajan assured the Chief Minister that strict monitoring would be ensured of all entrants, with private players being roped in to ensure implementation of home quarantine with phone-based monitoring and regular visits. Further, all entrants to the state would be required to mandatorily register themselves either on the COVA app or the government web portal, and the registration certificate, with bar code, should be carried on the vehicle windscreen. Those without the certificate print-out on their car screens would be stopped and made to register on the spot, at the border, before proceeding, she said, adding that with requirement of passes done away with in Unlock 2.0 by the Government of India, e-registration would help in monitoring and tracking of incoming domestic travellers.

The Chief Secretary further said that with the Government of India gradually withdrawing from supply of PPE kits and medicines etc to states, and Punjab receiving only Rs 72 crore so far this year, the Chief Minister may need to intervene in seeking additional funds and continuation of supplies from the Centre. Though the state administration had already taken up the matter with the central government, the Chief Minister might have to step in if no positive response is forthcoming in the next few days, she added.

Meanwhile, to prevent the outbreak of water-borne diseases, such as dengue and malaria, during the current monsoon season, the Chief Minister directed the Local Government and Rural development departments to undertake a 15-day intensive sanitation campaign, in addition to the ongoing disinfectant spraying being done in both urban and local areas.

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