Passengers arriving in Karnataka from coronavirus high-risk states can opt for testing by private labs at their own cost. The test would cost the passenger Rs 650 and would be done using the pooling method.
The Karnataka government has made it clear that it is struggling to cope with quarantine facilities for thousands of people who are returning to the state. Institutional quarantine is compulsory for those returning from states most affected by COVID-19 and Karnataka has asked the Ministry of Civil Aviation to reduce the number of flights to the state from Maharashtra, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan, and Madhya Pradesh.
Now, the state government has said it opening up the testing of incoming passengers from high-risk states at the point of entry to private labs. A release from the state said the order was aimed at improving the participation of private labs that have been approved by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) in testing. This would also help the labs and many are running at the sub-optimal level.
For the passengers, particularly those in special categories, who are allowed home quarantine after testing negative for the deadly virus, it would speed things up. The passenger and their attendant could leave earlier after giving the sample – once the swab collection centres are established at airports and railway stations. These testing kiosks would be set up without charge by the airports and railway stations.
A meeting was held with representatives of private labs who were assigned different locations for swab collection. The turnaround time for the tests is 24 hours. The responsibility of the private labs would be to collect the swab at the airport, railway station and the quarantine hotel and test the sample according to ICMR guidelines and communicate the test results to the passenger and the concerned nodal officer.
This facility is starting with the Bengaluru Urban district and will be introduced in the state’s 29 other districts in ICMR approved private labs.
The release said the nodal officers at these places would coordinate to establish swab collection centres.
This does not mean that there has been a change in the quarantine policy of the government. The state said there was a shortage of hotel rooms for those in paid quarantine as many people working in the hospitality sector have left Karnataka for their home states.