Pune: As Vaccination Being Made Compulsory, Citizens Say More Free COVID Test Centres Needed

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Pune, 5 April 2021: The authorities have issued the deadline of April 10, 2021, to get the staff members at all establishments tested for Coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Employees will only be allowed to move around the city if they are vaccinated or have a negative RT-PCR report. If any staffer or employee is found with neither, they would face a fine of Rs 1,000.

However, as per the Government of India guidelines, vaccination is available only for all individuals aged 45 and above. Hence, the only other option is to carry a negative COVID-19 test report while going to work.

“Today (Monday), our two teams had visited Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) health centres located in Pashan and Aundh to get vaccinated against COVID-19. The health centres only have vaccination facilities available. None of these centres had testing facilities. Later, we learned from our corporator that only one centre in Bopodi has free COVID-19 testing. One whole prabhag (ward) does not have a single free COVID-19 test centre. This is not acceptable,” said Vaishali Patkar, president of Aundh Vikas Mandal.

“Private laboratories are charging over Rs 800 for walk-in COVID-19 testing despite the government’s circular of charging only Rs 500. What is happening to keep a check on them?” she asked.

“A small shop has a minimum of 3-4 staff members, while housing societies have 10-15 staff members. If all staffers need to get tested for COVID-19, then it becomes an expensive affair for the establishments,” another member Seema Agarwal said.

“This rule to get every staffer tested for COVID-19 has brought stress to most of the establishments now. It is an expensive affair to get all staffers tested and keep doing it till they get a vaccine. Currently, only people aged 45 or above are eligible to receive the vaccine. If the staffers do not carry their COVID-19 test results, they face a fine of Rs 1,000. reports then face fine of Rs 1000,” Patkar added.

“If the mechanism is not ready for free testing then why issue such an order? Why to burden the citizens who are already reeling under business losses for over a year?”, asks Ravindra Sinha, who is also a member.

“Requesting the authorities to reconsider the circular and take back the rules on fines. And if fines cannot be taken back, then mobilise extra teams and kits to provide free testing for COVID-19 in every area before the deadline of April 10,” Sinha suggested.

“COVID-19 result reports are also provided after two to three days of getting the test done. Hence, to get the test results back by April 10 deadline is an immense burden on the citizens. Hence, requesting urgent actions on setting up free COVID-19 test centres in the city before starting to impose fines on citizens,” the citizens urged.