ISLAMABAD: Up to 80pc of Covid-19 tests carried out in the capital are being done on the basis of various requirements.

Most of these tests, which are being carried out at public and private laboratories, are of students and teachers, patients who have to undergo surgery, people intending to travel abroad and employees of companies who have made Covid-19 testing mandatory.

Saeed Marwat, a representative of Capital Diagnostic Lab, told Dawn that at first, many people were getting tested for Covid-19.

“With the passage of time, not only has the number of daily cases decreased but people have also started taking the disease as [a less serious] issue and are not scared of the disease anymore,” he said.

Earlier this year, Islamabad reported more than 700 cases of Covid-19 daily, which has dropped to around 50 a day.

“Now 80pc of the tests we are getting are requirement based, which means that a number of schools have been testing their teachers and have also directed students to bring Covid-19 reports with them. The government is also testing teachers and students of public and private educational institutions,” he said.

Another group being tested for Covid-19 are patients who have to undergo surgery, as doctors are not performing surgeries without assurance that the patient has not contracted the disease.

“A number of companies have also made it mandatory for their employees to get tested, so a large number of tests of employees are conducted. Moreover, since international travel has started, people who intend to travel abroad also come for tests as they are not allowed to enter other countries without test reports,” Mr Marwat said.

According to a document available with Dawn, Saudi Arabia has authorised seven laboratories to test people who intend to travel to the country on an exit and entry residence permit - known as an iqama - as well as visit or employment visas.

More than 3,000 passengers will travel abroad until Sept 30 according to the Islamabad International Airport’s flight schedule.

An official from a prominent lab who asked not to be named said that most airlines and countries have designated laboratories for Covid-19 testing.

“We conduct tests as per the requirements or directions of airlines and embassies. However, it is a fact that [fewer members of] the general public [are] getting themselves tested. We get 80pc requirement-based tests, 10pc tests are received of patients with symptoms of Covid-19 and around 10pc of people test themselves without having symptoms due to their sensitive nature,” he said.

Ministry of National Health Services spokesperson Sajid Shah said that the number of tests carried out is constantly increasing.

“A record number of tests - more than 36,000 - were conducted a few days ago but there is no burden of labs as government and private labs have enhanced their capacity to carry out tests,” he said.

He said that there were complaints a few months ago about delays in test reports being released, but there is no such issue now.

Published in Dawn, September 24th, 2020