COVID-19 in Mumbai: BMC tells residents of sealed buildings to get RT-PCR tests done of staff

Intensifying their containment strategies to keep Covid-19 at bay, some BMC wards have asked housing societies that either have sealed buildings or sealed floors to get RT-PCR tests for their high-risk contacts and staff (housekeeping, drivers, security guards). The move is aimed at breaking the chain of virus spread in housing societies that already have five or more cases on their premises.

According to BMC officials, in buildings/ floors that have been sealed after detection of multiple cases, there is a higher chance of people living in these buildings and visitors getting infected. “Apart from high-risk contacts of the patients testing positive for Covid-19, domestic help, housekeeping, drivers, and security guards living on the premises are at risk. More than that, staff not living on the premises but travelling to and fro every day may even become carriers. Hence, detecting cases at the earliest is one step towards early treatment, breaking the chain and even saving lives,” said a senior BMC official.

A ward (Churchgate, Colaba, Fort) and D ward (Malabar Hill, Breach Candy, Nepean Sea Road), the two wards comprising upscale areas in south Mumbai, have embarked on this initiative. However, while D ward has made it mandatory for societies where buildings or floors are sealed to conduct RT-PCR tests for their staff and HRCs through testing camps on the premises and facilitate it free of cost, A ward has requested them to get the test done at any private lab.

“Yes, we are doing this. We have asked all sealed buildings and housing societies with sealed floors to get RT-PCR tests of staff (whether residential or non-residential) done,” said Prashant Gaikwad, Assistant Municipal Commissioner of D ward. D ward has the second highest number of sealed buildings in its jurisdiction. As on May 26, the ward had 32 sealed buildings and 266 sealed floors.

Meanwhile, Assistant Municipal Commissioner Chanda Jadhav, A ward, said: “We are advising housing societies to get tests done from private labs on their own. It’s not compulsory. This is only for sealed floors, sealed buildings, not just staff but even HRCs.”

Jadhav added, “We do not have any sealed buildings in A ward currently but there are a few buildings with sealed floors. Hence, we have included high-risk contacts.”

There are 21 sealed floors in A ward.

Meanwhile, some wards in the suburbs too have started doing the same. K west ward, comprising Andheri west, Juhu, Versova and Four Bungalows etc, too has asked societies with sealed floors and sealed buildings to get RT-PCR tests for househelp and other in-house staff as well as helpers who come and go.

“The move is very important, considering the efforts we are putting in to break the chain and bring down the number of cases in each ward. This will help early detection of cases,” said Vishwas Mote, Assistant Municipal Commissioner, K west Ward. K west has the highest micro-containment zones / sealed buildings of all 24 wards. Currently, there 50 sealed buildings in K west ward. Apart from this, there are 574 sealed floors.

Overall, Mumbai has 200 active micro-containment zones/ sealed buildings and 4,376 sealed floors.

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Free Press Journal