Mumbai: As queues at Kasturba hospital for the coronavirus tests get longer by every hour, the BMC is working round the clock to increase the lab testing capacity in Mumbai for Covid-19.

The civic-run lab at Kasturba can test 250 samples a day for now, whereas the corporation aims to triple it by the next week to enable quick and effective preventive action.

Currently, four private labs in the city have come forward for testing. However, the labs would need permission from the central government to run the tests.

“Unless we receive permission from the Centre, tests cannot be allowed at private labs. The state government has so far received letters from four private labs to start the facility. We do need more labs to conduct sample tests for coronavirus, but the permission needs to come from the Centre,” said a civic official.

Besides, the body will get additional support from 12 private city hospitals that will be setting up isolation wards soon, said a senior official from BMC’s health department. Apart from the lab at Kasturba, the KEM hospital lab to has a capacity of 150 samples a day, however, corona tests are yet to begin on the premises.

The BMC additional commissioner, Suresh Kakani, said, “The kits for the tests are provided by the Centre and people with symptoms, travel history or close contact with corona positive patients are given preference.

We will soon increase the capacity with labs in KEM and Sion hospitals. We are working towards increasing the number of lab testings, that is challenge we are facing currently.”

Meanwhile, the body is set to direct patients at 12 civic hospitals after they informed BMC the facility is ready and they can admit patients as per the BMC’s instructions.

“But the number of isolation beds in Kasturba is enough as of now and a new isolation facility with 20 beds has been started at HBT trauma care hospital from Tuesday itself.

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