In view of the need to increase surveillance for Avian Influenza (Bird Flu), the Punjab Government has restored the Regional Disease Diagnostic Laboratory (RDDL), Jalandhar of Animal Husbandry Department for the testing of such suspicious cases which was earlier being used for COVID-19 Testing.
Giving details here on Sunday, Health & Family Welfare Minister Mr. Balbir Singh Sidhu said that to maximize testing for bird flu, COVID-19 testing has temporarily been suspended at RDDL as more than enough COVID testing capacity is available at distance of one hour.
He said that RDDL will revert to testing for COVID-19 once bird flu threat is over. He also clarified that there is not even a single sample pending for testing in backlog at RDDL.
Principal Secretary Health & Family Welfare Mr. Hussan Lal said that that in wake of bird flu, instructions have already been issued to all Civil Surgeons in this regard. He said that they were directed to coordinate on regular basis with the Department of Animal Husbandry in their respective districts for any unusual death of poultry birds/migratory birds etc. and to ensure regular surveillance of wetlands, if any, in the area is being done. If any suspected human case is reported, the epidemiological surveillance to trace more cases should be carried out in the affected area.
Divulging about tests being conducted in various labs he said that COVID-19 testing capacity at Government Medical Colleges Amritsar, Faridkot and Patiala is 7000 each (Total 21000). Testing capacity of GADVASU, PBTI and FSL is 1600, 1500 and 1000 respectively. In addition, there are several private labs providing COVID-19 testing services in the State. At present, testing capacity of State is 25,000 to 30,000 per day.
Mr. Hussan Lal further said that presently, total COVID-19 testing capacity is above 26,600 that is more than sufficient. Faridkot has more than required testing capacity for COVID-19 and there are no backlogs. All labs, including RDDL and Faridkot, provide test results in 24 hours. Moreover, before RDDL became functional for COVID-19 testing, samples from Jalandhar used to be sent to Faridkot Lab.
Notably, the Punjab Government has declared the whole state as a ‘Controlled Area’ due to outbreak of Avian bird flu and imposed complete ban on import of live birds including Poultry and unprocessed Poultry meat for any purpose into the state of Punjab with immediate effect till 15th January, 2021.