LAHORE: Following discrepancy in the number of tests performed in Punjab, the provincial authorities on Thursday released breakup of the figures saying more than 16,000 tests have been performed till April1.

The health department said the tests were performed by the five nominated/designated public and private labs.

A controversy was generated and the federal and the Punjab authorities developed differences on the reported number of tests performed across the province.

Primary & Secondary Healthcare Department Secretary Mohammad Usman told Dawn that the total number of tests done on the patients in Punjab was 16,061 till April 1.

“We have a flawless system of data reporting in Punjab and I am supervising the entire process,” Mr Usman said. He said the department was updating Chief Minister Usman Buzdar on the figures every day.

P&SHD secy says Punjab has flawless system of data reporting

Of the total number of tests, he said, 7,250 were performed by Chughtai Lab and that was the highest figure. The provincial public health reference lab of the P&SHD conducted 3,021 tests, the National Institute of Health Islamabad (NIH) 2,980 tests, the Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital 2,630 and the Nishtar Hospital, Multan performed 180 tests, he said.

He said there could be a lack of coordination between provincial and federal authorities on compiling statistics but the figures being reported/compiled in Punjab were based on facts, he said.

“We are trying to improve reporting mechanism and coordination in order to keep the federal government up-to-date on the latest figures,” he said.

Mr Usman further said the Punjab government was also expanding the capacity for conducting tests for the patients by establishing more BSL-III labs across the province besides upgrading some others.

“Eight new labs will start functioning by the middle of April,” said Mr Usman.

The labs are being established or upgraded in DG Khan, Bahawalpur, Rawalpindi, Faisalabad, Gujranwala and Lahore. He said the Jinnah Hospital and the Lahore General Hospital had also started conducting tests.

A full-fledged and sophisticated lab at the Institute of Public Health, Lahore was also being established.

“Since most of the tests were performed by private labs, the Punjab government took emergent measures to enhance test capacity of the public sector labs across the province,” he said.

By making the new labs fully functional, he said, the government sector labs would be able to perform 3,250 tests of the suspected patients.

Published in Dawn, April 3rd, 2020