Soon non-Covid patients visiting BMC-run dispensaries and peripheral hospitals will need to undergo antigen testing. According to BMC officials, the initiative is a precautionary measure to identify if anyone has symptoms of coronavirus. It will also help ramp up testing at the secondary health care facilities.
Currently, there are 175 dispensaries where patients related to monsoon ailments and other illnesses will be treated. So far 80,000 antigen tests have been done across Mumbai. “Our first priority will be to test people with symptoms. Then we will test the close contacts of positive patients with rapid antigen,” said an official.
Suresh Kakani, Additional Municipal Commissioner, BMC said they will be providing 500 to 1,000 rapid testing kits to all its dispensaries. Moreover, antigen testing will also start at 16 peripheral hospitals. “Till now antigen testing has been done at the Covid Care Centres (CCC) and hospitals. To ramp up testing, we have decided to allow antigen testing in dispensaries and peripheral hospitals for better accessibility to people,” he said.
Senior officials said over 70 laboratory technicians have been given training in the first phase at the three major civic-run hospitals— King Edward Memorial (KEM), BYL Nair and Lokmanya Tilak General hospitals. “We started the training programme three days ago and by next week, they will all know how to carry out the antigen tests at dispensaries and peripheral hospitals," said an official.
BMC is conducting more than 2,000 antigen tests on a daily basis. In the first instalment, BMC procured one lakh antigen testing kits. Now as 80 per cent of the kits have been used, meanwhile BMC has floated a tender to procure another 50,000 kits.
Health experts have welcomed this move stating it will help to control the spread of infections as many of them are left undiagnosed and if non-covid patients are being tested it will help BMC to understand the spread of virus.
Till August 25, BMC has conducted cumulative 7,25,519 tests including antigen and Real-time polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR). Out of this, 1,37,678 individuals have been diagnosed with Covid-19. This takes down the positivity rate to 18.97% which was 23 per cent in July.