Mumbai: A mere one per cent of the 1,800 people under home quarantine in the city have opted to be tested for coronavirus, according to the BMC health department.

This comes after five private laboratories in the city have been approved by the ICMR to conduct tests for CoVID-19. The BMC contacted all the 1,800 home-quarantined people to enquire if they wanted to be tested. Only 18 did so.

Suresh Kakani, additional municipal commissioner, health, said since private labs have begun testing, it has reduced the workload of the Kasturba and KEM laboratories. Authorities have also been asking citizens if they want to be tested by government or private labs.

“We have made a list of 1,800 travelers who have been home quarantined, of which only 18 people have called and sought home testing. At private labs,they will have to pay Rs 4,500 per test,” he said.

“Even though private labs take swab samples and provide results, the samples have to be sent to government labs for reconfirmation,” he added.

In the early days of the outbreak in Mumbai, there was only one state laboratory- the National Institute of Virology at Pune. But as the number of cases in the city grew, BMC tied up with private laboratories such asThyrocare, Suburban Diagnostics, SRL Diagnostics, Metropolis Healthcare Ltd and Sir HN Reliance Foundation Hospital. The BMC has also tied up with Hinduja, Lilavati Charitable Hospital and Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital but they are yet to become functional.

People can call the helpline number of the BMC, seeking appointments for tests. After listening to the symptoms callers describe, the BMC approves their request. Also, people can directly call the private labs for tests. Following this, the respective lab employees go to patients' houses to collect swab samples.

Since last Saturday, the BMC has been taking requests for tests from the public. “On Saturday, almost 1,000 people called, following which 366 requests were approved and various private labs have been assigned the task,” said Kakani.

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