Punjab will no longer mark homes of coronavirus patients with warning posters, in a big change in the state’s SOPs linked to home isolation. Chief Minister Amarinder Singh said today that the decision aims to minimise the stigma attached to the disease and the “trauma” that infected people felt because of the posters.
“The psychological trauma that patients were seen suffering as a result of these posters, which were meant to protect neighbours and others of such patients, was defeating the very purpose. These posters were actually found scaring people away from testing,” Amarinder Singh said in a statement.
“The undesirable and unintended consequences of these posters included social isolation and stigma, leading to anxiety and prejudices against the patients. People would refrain from getting tested to avoid this stigma instead of extending support and community to the patients and their families, which had prompted a rethink on the decision of affixing posters,” he added.
Mr Singh, who has been observing home isolation after coming in contact with two Covid positive MLAs at the state assembly session last month, urged people to follow all the guidelines for home isolation except the poster rule. The community, he said, has an important role in the fight against the virus that has killed over 67,000 people across the country.
Punjab had recently allowed home isolation for asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic Covid patients who do not suffer from any co-morbidities based on the Centre’s protocol and recommendations of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), the country’s premier medical body.
Punjab has seen a surge in coronavirus cases over the last few weeks. The total count of those infected is over 58,500 including nearly 1,700 deaths.
The state, to bump up testing, has decided to allow free walk-in COVID-19 testing in government hospitals and mobile vans, and similar testing for a nominal cost not exceeding ₹ 250 by private doctors and hospitals. Those who want their result immediately can also opt for rapid antigen test (RAT), while RT-PCR test will also be available.
Punjab will explore similar arrangements for rapid antigen test by pharmacists and chemists, on the lines of private hospitals and doctors, the state government said on Thursday.