Covid test: Chandigarh says no prescription needed, private labs insist

Residents at receiving end; Administration reiterates orders

Covid test: Chandigarh says no prescription needed, private labs insist

Private labs claim they need a prescription from a medical practitioner in line with the ICMR guidelines despite the UT Administration having asked them not to seek a prescription.

Naina Mishra
Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, August 5

Despite tall claims by the government of having ramped up the manufacturing of testing equipment and setting up infrastructure by allowing private laboratories to conduct Covid tests, city residents feel hassled getting themselves tested at these private labs if they do not have a qualified physician’s prescription.

What labs say

Private labs claim they need a prescription from a medical practitioner in line with the ICMR guidelines despite the UT Administration having asked them not to seek a prescription.

Private labs claim they need a prescription from a medical practitioner in line with the ICMR guidelines despite the UT Administration having asked them not to seek a prescription. The UT Administration today reiterated its orders saying, “Private labs approved by the ICMR and located in Chandigarh are allowed corona testing through the RT-PCR test without a prescription from a medical practitioner on a payment basis.”

Shivam Sakhuja, a city resident, while sharing his experience of Covid testing at a private lab, says, “The Administration claims no prescription is required, but the private lab denied testing without a prescription. I had chosen the private lab thinking it would take less time as it is risky to wait for long hours in a government health facility with infected people all around.”

Similarly, a resident of Sector 29 faced problems when a private hospital, which sampled his mother for Covid, did not prescribe the Covid test for the immediate family contacts and neither intimated the IDSP cell of the UT about the positive case. “I couldn’t get myself tested in a private lab as I did not have the prescription. I then visited a government facility and got myself tested,” he said.

Three private laboratories – SRL Diagnostic Laboratory, Atulaya Healthcare and Metropolis Healthcare – all in Sector 11, are conducting Covid tests in Chandigarh.

While Atulaya Healthcare is providing the Covid 19 test by three methods — RT PCR for Rs2,000 per test, antibody on chemiluminescence immunoassay (CLIA) for Rs999 per test and antigen on rapid card for Rs1,500 per test, SRL Diagnostic Laboratory and Metropolis Healthcare is at present conducting only the RT-PCR test.

Pankaj Kansil, director, Atulaya Healthcare, said, “We started Covid testing on June 10 and have done approximately 1,500 tests so far.

We have already ramped up our capacity to 180 tests per day and will further increase to 500 tests per day by end of this month. We are testing as per the guidelines set by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR). We have gone a step further and are collecting samples in the Lysis medium containing tubes as the virus becomes inactive immediately after transferring the sample into the tube. This additional precaution neutralises the virus as soon as we take the sample, eliminating the risk of infection to our doctors, technicians and other staff.”

Arvind Kampani, assistant general manager of Metropolis Healthcare, said, “We are only taking samples from Mohali private hospitals, which are primarily pre-surgical or before delivery. The samples are sent to Delhi

and the reports are received the next day. We don’t have a sample collection kiosk in Chandigarh. We are only conducting the RT-PCR test for now. We will soon apply for home collection of Covid-19 samples in Chandigarh.”

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