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Panchkula shuts down sampling centres, cites staff crunch

The district health authorities, widely appreciated for running almost 30 Covid-19 sampling centres each day for testing people from across and outside the district, have reduced the number of sampling centres.

Written by Pallavi Singhal | Panchkula |
April 25, 2021 8:49:02 am
People have been running from pillar-to-post in the city, in an attempt to get themselves tested. (Express Photo by Kamleshwar Singh)

Several Covid-19 sampling centres in Panchkula district were shut down this week citing staff crunch due to shifting of resources for vaccination, surveillance of patients in home isolation and the increasing number of Covid cases among healthcare workers.

The district health authorities, widely appreciated for running almost 30 Covid-19 sampling centres each day for testing people from across and outside the district, have reduced the number of sampling centres.

Several affected residents cry foul alleging that “this is only a tactic to reduce sampling and thus the number of cases reported in the official data.”

Harpal Singh, employed with a PSU bank, had wanted to get himself tested for Covid-19 on Saturday as his branch-incharge had tested positive. “I visited a private facility at Sector 7 community center, it was closed. I went to Sector 8 dispensary, it was also closed. I contacted Covid helpline, they asked me to go to General Hospital in Sector 6 of Panchkula and even stated that all other facilities have been closed. I eventually had to get myself tested from a private Lab in Chandigarh. It was a better option rather than standing in a huge crowd here,” he says, further adding that “the government has closed all testing facilities rather than opening more facilities and testing more people. Is this their master strategy to suppress Covid cases?”

Another resident of Sector 12, Ankur Sharma, whose aunt tested positive earlier this week too visited several sampling centres only to find them closed. “It was on Thursday that I started developing symptoms after helping my aunt on Monday, who later tested positive. Worried about spreading it further in my family I wanted to get tested as soon as possible. But after finding several centres closed, I reached the civil hospital by noon and had to wait for almost an-hour-and-half in direct sun for my turn. It is cruel what they are doing to people already sick,” he says.

People have been running from pillar-to-post in the city, in an attempt to get themselves tested. While several claim that only civil hospital in Sector 6 is currently sampling people for Covid-19 test and the remaing facilities are shut, CMO Panchkula Dr Jasjeet Kaur says that sampling is on at all CHCs, PHCs, four dispensaries, Civil Hospital and through mobile teams.

“Most of our field medical and paramedics staff are busy in managing patients in home isolation, surveillance in containment zones, vaccination et al. Staff crunch has also increased due to parallel vaccination. Rising Covid positivity among our staff is another reason. Focus is now on increased mobile teams and sampling in hotspots, industries and establishments for maximum sampling. If we get a few paramedic students, we can start sampling again in all urban dispensaries. In the meantime, despite the lack of resources, we are still testing approximately 2,200 samples a day which is also the number of samples our lab can process within a day,” said Dr Kaur.

Battling with the second wave, with several healthcare workers testing positive each day, the CMO had asked the state authorities about two weeks back to depute additional healthcare staff from nursing and dental colleges. “A few of them have joined on Saturday and more will join by Monday hopefully,” adds Dr Kaur.

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