There has been a sharp surge in the demand for Covid-19 tests across the city in the last six days, resulting in increased workload at the city’s laboratories and people having to wait two-three days or longer to simply get tested. In the last six days, 2,36,284 tests have been conducted, an average of 39,380 per day. At private laboratories too, test numbers have doubled in the same period.
This has come after the state government made Covid testing mandatory in corporate and other sectors. Officials said, before the new restrictions, laboratories got 10,000 samples each for testing but this number has doubled and now, there is a waiting list for those coming in to be tested.
Chandrashekhar Mani, Vice President (Operations), Thyrocare, said the sample collection for Covid testing had doubled in the last week, since the state government issued guidelines of mandatory testing for all.
“There has been an almost 50 per cent increase in sample collection and we are giving priority to patients who have corona-like symptoms. Besides, we are getting calls from the corporate sector to conduct Covid-19 testing for their staff, which too has added to the workload,” he said.
People are waiting for as long as two or three days or more to get tested.
“I had fever and a sore throat, following which I decided to get tested for corona but when I called SRL Laboratories, they asked me to wait for two days as there is no slot available and all their manpower is being used in sample collection and analysis,” said Ramesh Nirmal, a resident of Parel.
Additional Municipal Commissioner Suresh Kakani said they had ramped up Covid testing by 70-80 per cent, in order to track suspected symptomatic or asymptomatic patients. But they had learnt that many laboratories were delaying the reports. So now, the civic body has issued guidelines after observing that laboratories are not following the norm of maintaining 24-hour Turn Around Time (TAT) and are sharing test reports directly with patients before informing the BMC.
"This is adversely affecting allotment of beds to needy patients. The guidelines directed laboratories to give priority to sample collection to symptomatic persons over asymptomatic ones. We had also warned of strict action, including cancellation of licence, in case of violations by laboratories,” Kakani said. However, he said they had not received complaints from people being asked to wait for two to three days to get a Covid test, so far.