Coronavirus in Mumbai: Amid rise in cases, BMC plans to to ramp up COVID-19 testing

Mumbai: The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation plans to conduct 2,000 more corona tests per day in the coming days. With this scale-up, around 7,000 tests will be undertaken each day. Civic officials said the reason for increased testing was to detect high-risk contacts of infected patients from containment zones, to track down patients, especially those who are asymptomatic. Meanwhile, health experts have urged citizens not to panic if the number of cases increase, as a result of this measure.

Currently, the BMC is conducting 3,500-5,000 reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) tests daily. But now, they plan to increase this to 7,000, with the help of rapid testing antigen kits. “Mumbai will soon begin conducting antigen tests on around 4,000 samples a day. So we will soon carry out 8,000 to 10,000 tests a day - antigen and RT-PCR combined. We are not worried about conducting more tests, as it will help us diagnose patients at the earliest and the mortality rate will be reduced,” said Additional Municipal Commissioner Suresh Kakani.

Civic officials said they would mainly focus on the northern suburbs of Mumbai, where cases are rising gradually. Moreover, they will also be testing symptomatic patients from hospitals, to get faster reports. “We have already ramped up testing and want more people to get tested. For this, we have made testing as accessible as possible. E-prescriptions are enough for getting tested. Those who are over 70 years of age can get tested, with an attendant in tow, if needed. All these measures have been taken to make testing accessible and easy,” said Kakani.

Health experts have welcomed this move, saying it will help the BMC detect the cases at the earliest, which will help break the chain of transmission. Moreover, they will now start with the rapid antigen tests, which is also a good initiative. “In Mumbai, many patients are not being traced. With increased testing, each and every case can be detected. While this will cause numbers to rise, it is not a reason to panic. The more we identify and isolate cases, the faster the chain of transmission will break,” said an expert.

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