LAHORE -- The Punjab Forensic Science Agency (PFSA) is unable to run its international standard Covid Lab due to alleged lack of support by the provincial government.
Established by the European Union/British High Commission at a cost of Rs73 million to enhance the test capacity in Punjab, the PFSA Covid Lab had been conducting 100-150 tests daily against its daily capacity of 1,500 since March. It shut down the testing service on June 2 after the Punjab government rejected its request to provide funds to the tune of Rs21.18 million to continue the service.
It had approached the Punjab government for an 'interim relief' after the EU / British High Commission also stopped providing financial support/kits to the PFSA for not conducting tests according to the capacity promised by the Agency.
This disturbing development has come at a time when the coronavirus transmission is at its peak in Punjab.
DG says Punjab govt support is required to resume testing
The Agency got 10 test kits from the EU/British High Commission as a short relief a couple of days back and it is awaiting financial support from the Punjab government.
PFSA Director General Dr Ashraf Tahir in his letter to the Punjab government said the EU had financially supported them to establish the first state-of-the-art lab in Punjab on the premises of the PFSA to carry out 1,500 test daily. He lamented that the Agency could not achieve the target because the health authorities didn't send them samples in a required number despite repeated requests, irking the EU.
He brought this matter to the Punjab government notice through the home department requesting it to help re-restart testing by providing funds to purchase kits to perform tests of Covid-19 patients after refusal by the EU for kits.
A significant amount of funds was required to establish the testing facility. As the Punjab government was facing budgetary constraints due to low tax collection, it was difficult for the PFSA to get funds for procurement of equipment required for Covid testing lab, he said.
'In the meanwhile, the European Union Office Islamabad was approached through the British High Commission for assistance in establishing the PFSA Covid testing lab with 1,500 per day test capacity,' reads the letter. Fortunately, he said, the...