Mumbai: The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has now directed all its hospitals to start the evening Outpatient Department through which they will be able to identify patients with Covid-like symptoms and send their samples for Rt-PCR testing and genome sequencing.
This comes after the city has witnessed a huge jump in the daily Covid cases, over the last two to three days, due to which the test positivity rate has increased to 8.4 per cent. Moreover, it is believed that there will be more symptomatic patients as monsoons draw closer.
“We have instructed all the hospitals and dispensaries to look out for influenza-like illness (ILI) and severe acute respiratory illness (SARI) patients and also to conduct RT-PCR tests on them. We do not want to leave any loophole which will have a bad impact on the city considering there is a surge in cases,” additional municipal commissioner Dr Sanjeev Kumar said, adding that citizens should get vaccinated and not let their guard down for the next six months.
A senior health official from the state health department said all the district collectors and health officers have been instructed to watch for ILI and SARI patients in their respective districts. Meanwhile, authorities have come across many patients exhibiting these symptoms and most of them are testing positive for influenza A. There were hardly any cases of swine flu or influenza last year.
“In the past one month, seven to eight patients have shown symptoms of fever, cough and sore throat, similar to Covid. If I test 10 people with these symptoms, the majority are turning positive for influenza. Moreover, the current situation may dramatically change over the next few weeks considering there has been a surge in new Covid cases over the past few weeks. We need to be alert at this point in time,” the doctor said.
Health experts are stressing that pandemic norms like wearing of masks and social distancing, which were rolled back to “voluntary mode” on April 2 this year amid a fall in cases, will have to be observed diligently again.
“The rise in cases could be due to multiple reasons. Vaccination coverage has slowed down and is poor in the under-18 and booster dose segments. Moreover, the virus undergoes mutations to form new variants that are either more transmissible, or the immunity acquired by vaccination does not fully protect against them,” said Dr Trupti Gilada, infectious diseases specialist at Masina Hospital.