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Monday, June 01, 2020

In a first, drive through, roll down windows and get tested at this COVID-19 centre in Delhi

Dr Arjun Dang, CEO of Dr Dangs Lab, told The Indian Express, “At the central market in Punjabi Bagh, there is a 30-40 metre-long stretch that we have turned into the drive-through premises; only one car is allowed inside at any given time.

Written by Somya Lakhani | New Delhi | Updated: April 5, 2020 7:47:16 am
In a first, drive through, roll down windows and get tested at this COVID-19 centre in Delhi OPD Services have been closed at LNJP Hospital Saturday onwards. (Photo: Praveen Khanna)

Starting Monday morning, Dr Dang’s Lab, one of the private labs in the country allowed to test for coronavirus, will begin the country’s first drive-through COVID-19 testing at West Delhi’s Punjabi Bagh.

Dr Arjun Dang, CEO of Dr Dangs Lab, told The Indian Express, “At the central market in Punjabi Bagh, there is a 30-40 metre-long stretch that we have turned into the drive-through premises; only one car is allowed inside at any given time. The guidelines to get the test are the same — a doctor’s prescription for COVID-19 testing and the doctor’s registration number; a government photo-ID such as Aadhaar card; and a patient pro forma request form. Apart from this, there are two more questions on the make and colour of the car, and the number plate of the car.”

Dang said that the testing drive-through will have four stations — at the first signage, there is a banner with the lab’s name; at the second station, a trained personnel in personal protective equipment (PPE), who is manning the barricade, will check the registration number, the colour and the make of the car with the details filed with the lab, as well as the patient’s ID.

“At all stations, there will be a signage that will say ‘please keep your windows rolled up’. At the third station, 10 metres away, a signage will say ‘please park your car inside the white box.’ This is placed next to a temporary structure that has double-sided ventilation, where a medical officer will get confirmation of the patient’s ID, wear the full PPE and will hold up a signage that will say ‘please roll down the window of the patient only, tilt your head back’. After this two swabs will be taken, and from the fourth station, they can exit,” said Dr Dang.

Explained | To do rapid tests, or not to

Once the patient books an appointment for a drive-through testing, a PDF will be shared with details such as “only two patients per vehicle, patient to be seated on the right as the booth is one the right, and that no two-wheelers or taxis are allowed”.

Dang said that as per a study by Stanford Medicine, “the drive-through model is an effective strategy to respond to a pandemic, especially in order to prevent the spread by avoiding possible transmission both to patient and medical staff”.

Read | When to test and whom

As of now, private labs are testing in two ways — home collections and at dedicated COVID-19 testing collection centres.

Dang said, “In home collections, patients are slightly apprehensive even though we use the highest level of infection control and PPE and have a separate team just doing COVID-19 collections… People still have apprehensions that the person coming to test must have gone to several houses to collect those samples.”

The second option of COVID-19 collection centres, he said, come with their own problems. “The person coming in will touch the railing on the stairs, sit on a chair, touch the armrest… Even when you have judicious use of the disinfection protocols like the hypochlorite spray, the chances of residual COVID-19 infection when the patient entering any kind of premises is scary.”

At the drive-through, 20 minutes has been set aside per vehicle with an 11-minute buffer period. There are four trained medical officers, and the ability to test 30-50 patients daily from 8.30 am to 4.30 pm.

Here’s a quick Coronavirus guide from Express Explained to keep you updated: What can cause a COVID-19 patient to relapse after recovery? | COVID-19 lockdown has cleaned up the air, but this may not be good news. Here’s why | Can alternative medicine work against the coronavirus? | A five-minute test for COVID-19 has been readied, India may get it too | How India is building up defence during lockdown | Why only a fraction of those with coronavirus suffer acutely | How do healthcare workers protect themselves from getting infected? | What does it take to set up isolation wards?

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