A health worker takes a swab sample for a Rapid Antigen Testing (RAT) at a roadside market following restrictions imposed by the state government amidst rising Covid-19 coronavirus cases, in Mumbai on April 6, 2021.
A health worker takes a swab sample for a Rapid Antigen Testing (RAT) at a roadside market following restrictions imposed by the state government amidst rising Covid-19 coronavirus cases, in Mumbai on April 6, 2021.
(Photo by AFP)

Mumbai: Limited contact tracing has resulted in a large pool of asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic people of contacts going untracked and hence, untested which has resulted in a surge in corona cases across Mumbai. According to the guidelines of the Union Health Ministry, the ratio of contact tracing should be 1:30, which means 30 contacts of a person who has tested positive should be tracked and tested, but the ratio in Mumbai is 1:15. Conceding that insufficient contact tracing could be a contributing factor to the current surge, once again, the civic body has begun 1:30 contact tracing.

Health experts, however, believe that not just the public but the civic body too started to believe that the virus was losing its grip and this resulted in slacking off on observance of Covid protocol and the results are there for all to see.

Additional Municipal Commissioner Suresh Kakani said there was lesser contact tracing than is stipulated in the guidelines but it is only one of the contributing factors for the surge. He also said it was difficult to trace 30 people who were contacts of a positive patient, as most patients have trouble remembering whom they had met. “We were following the protocol issued by the Central government regarding the contact tracing. But in the last two to three months, this ratio had fallen to 1:15. However, we have now instructed everyone to stick to the earlier protocol, to curb the cases,” he said.

Dr Subhash Salunkhe, state advisor on Covid-19 and former director-general of health services, said that strict measures had been adopted by the state government to control the rising number of cases. Further, the government is following the old measures which were initiated last year when cases had peaked. However, there was no question that contact tracing had been reduced, he said. People should try and remember those they are meeting on a daily basis so that it would become easy for the government body to trace the close contacts and isolate them before they became super spreaders.

“Looking at the pattern and the incubation period, we could continue to see such high numbers till April 15. During this period, two things need to be strictly carried out — more vaccination and a strong testing drive... There is an absolute need for active intervention in the form of localised restrictions to start with, including no congregation, no crowding in restaurants, weddings, etc. Authorities should keep a check on positive patients in home quarantine as well as ensure no rules are being flouted,” he said.

Dr Trupti Gilada, Consultant and Infectious Diseases Specialist, Masina Hospital, said there were many reasons for the surge in Covid cases and one of the reasons is reduced contact tracing. “The present surge is an interplay of a new variant which is more transmissible, the relaxation of Covid-appropriate behaviour and norms for community gatherings. Now, that the cases are on the rise, contact tracing and testing have increased. And states with increased testing will correctly reflect the true numbers,” she said.

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