Amid reports of a nexus between private hospitals and private labs conducting COVID testing, and higher positivity rate in tests conducted by private labs, the Punjab government has asked civil surgeons to randomly cross-check tests conducted by these labs.
Sources in the government said that 25 to 30 per cent positive cases of the total cases were from private labs and there were allegations that the private labs were giving false positive reports to help certain private hospitals, which were advising admission to those testing positive.
Punjab Health Minister Balbir Singh Sidhu, who did not want to comment on “fake positive reports”, said they had asked the civil surgeons to randomly counter-check those testing positive at private labs. “They have been asked to get random samples from those already testing positive. For instance, by retesting 10 positive cases from a lab, we can get an idea what is happening. The civil surgeons have been asked to get these tests conducted immediately,” Sidhu said.
Punjab Health Secretary Hussan Lal, however, said that there was no report of a nexus and malafide intention except in the case of infamous Tuli Lab of Amritsar, where those having negative reports were being given fake positive reports. “This is routine. We have not received any complaint from anyone. It is an advisory just to check if everything is going well because the positivity rate at private labs is higher. But at the same time it is believed that those going to private labs, after paying money for the test, must be going there after getting symptoms. In case of government labs, we are testing even asymptomatic people. The test is conducted free of cost. That could be the reason behind the high positivity rate of private labs.”
Sources said in four districts that topped the Covid tally in the state — Ludhiana, Jalandhar, Ferozepur and Patiala — this random cross-checking would take place. The maximum number of cases are reported from these districts.
Sidhu said that the cross-checking would not mean wastage of testing kits.
“We have enough testing capacity. We have no shortage of kits. It is always better to keep a check.”
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