Delhi lab to offer ‘drive-through test’

DDL to start sample collection at Punjabi Bagh centre today

April 05, 2020 11:33 pm | Updated April 06, 2020 12:08 pm IST - NEW DELHI

To work around the challenges of home-based testing in the country, Dr. Dangs Lab (DDL) plans to offer ‘drive-through test’ for COVID-19.

South Korea leads the world in the number of tests per million to check for coronavirus infection and it has been able to do it, partly, by allowing those who feel sick to drive up to a test centre where nurses wearing protective gear collect a nose or throat sample from the car itself. Results are mailed or messaged in a day. This method of mass testing has allowed reduced contact between patients and healthcare workers, thereby lessening the chances of transmission.

“Inspired” by the South Korean approach, Arjun Dang, CEO, DDL, said the test would conform with the guidelines of the Indian Council of Medical Research that mandates only those who have a doctor’s prescription to be offered a test.

“What we have seen so far is that many are uncomfortable with the home collection process. They are worried that lab personnel — despite being fully protected — may infect family members,” Dr. Arjun told The Hindu.

Testing apprehensions

Navin Dang, president, DDL, said that some people are worried that lab personnel visiting home in full protective gear would scare the neighbours. “There are also instances when spouses of some of our own lab personnel have been told by their partners to live separately for a month. It’s to address such concerns that we are offering this facility,” he said.

The drive-through test, which the lab will begin to offer at its Punjabi Bagh centre in west Delhi from Monday, would require those wanting a test to pre-register, pay online and provide details of their car. There would be a 30-metre gap between cars. “A stretch in the parking lot will be used for this purpose. The cars will be parked in designated spots, windows rolled down, samples collected and they will drive off. Each test should take about 20 minutes,” Dr. Arjun said.

Testing for COVID-19 costs ₹4,500 and the drive-through test cost will be “similar”, he added, but didn’t specify the exact price. People are already signing up online for the test, but the days ahead are likely to see an uptick in such visits, he said.

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