The health department has started conducting antigen-based diagnostic tests for coronavirus at the major state-run hospitals.
Health secretary Nila Mohanan told a press conference in Panaji that the antigen tests will also be conducted on the people arriving in the state by air, adding that health workers have started conducting the particular tests at Asilo Hospital in Mapusa and Hospicio Hospital in Margao as well as sub-district hospitals at Ponda and Chicalim.
She said that in the next two days the antigen tests will be carried out at primary and community health centres.
An antigen test reveals whether a person is infected with a pathogen such as the SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
This test gives quick results, and it has been widely used across the country especially in containment zones.
Mohanan said that Rs 2,000 is being charged from the people arriving in the state and the people coming forward to undergo the test.
No fee is charged from primary and secondary contacts of COVID positive people. The government has given permission to five private laboratories to carry out the
antigen tests – the in-house labs of Manipal Hospital (Dona Paula), Apollo Victor Hospital (Margao), SRL Lab and Lal Pathlab (both based in Panaji) and Lab Plus (Margao).
Three private hospitals – Manipal Hospital, Apollo Victor Hospital and SMRC – have complied with the government order in reserving 20 per cent of their beds for COVID patients, Mohanan said.
Ocean Wellness in Sangolda and Ocean Residency in Colva have been set up as private COVID care centres following the recommendations of the Goa chapter of the Indian Medical Association.
When asked what steps the government is taking to ensure that the people are not overcharged for such private facilities, Mohanan said, “We will get to it later. First, let the public come forward to avail the services. If there is any complaint we will look into it.”
A team of the Drug General Controller of India will inspect the facilities set up at the Margao-based COVID Hospital for carrying out ‘convalescent plasma therapy’ for treating critical COVID patients, the health secretary said, adding that around 35-40 recovered patients have donated their plasma.
Later in the evening, Health Minister Vishwajit Rane took to Twitter informing about the commissioning of Apheresis machine at the GMC which is vital to separate and extract plasma from other blood components.
Meanwhile, the government defended its move to shift antenatal, postnatal and paediatrics units of the COVID Hospital to the Rural Health and Training Centre, Mandur.
Mohanan said, “The Goa Medical College is also a teaching institute. It has been specifically mentioned by ICMR and the central ministry in their guidelines that all medical colleges can be part of the COVID management. In fact, the GMC is one of the few hospitals which don’t treat COVID patients. The logic of teaching institute not being associated with the COVID management doesn’t stand.”
Mohanan said that 150 applications of asymptomatic COVID positive people seeking permission for home isolation have been approved by the government, adding that around 25 applications were rejected as they failed to meet the requirements laid down by the ICMR.