Covid-19 outbreak: No free RT-PCR testing kits for Mumbai after September 30

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Published on Sep 27, 2020 10:53 PM IST
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ByEeshanpriya MS

Come September 30, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) will stop getting RT-PCR (reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction) testing kits for Covid-19 testing for free from the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).

In August, ICMR informed state governments that they will no longer give RT-PCR test kits for free. This month, BMC conducted upto 15,000 Covid tests daily. Currently, 60%-80% of the daily tests conducted in Mumbai are through the RT-PCR method, while the rest are rapid antigen tests. The current stock of RT-PCR kits can suffice till October 31. The civic body has initiated the tendering process to procure new kits.

Suresh Kakani, additional municipal commissioner in-charge of the civic health department, said, “We asked ICMR for an extension till September 30. Our stock will last till October 31. After the due process, we will procure RT-PCR kits from the market, from private and government agencies presently providing these kits to the Central government.”

When asked how much will it cost BMC, Kakani said, “We are working out the cost. Proper procedure will be followed, and tenders will be floated.”

The civic body is already facing a financial crunch, from losses due to lockdown and unforseen Covid relief expenditure. Earlier this month, BMC slashed 2,500 crore from funds for infrastructure projects and has asked its administrative departments to cut revenue expenditure by 20%.

BMC is also accumulating RT-PCR kits week on week to ensure the stock lasts maximum number of days. “We will not face any shortage,” Kakani said.

RT-PCR test results to detect Covid-19 are considered accurate, in comparison to antigen tests which have a higher chance of producing a false negative.

So far, BMC has procured 2 lakh rapid antigen testing kits from the market, and has placed an order to procure 1 lakh more.

BMC has so far conducted 10.57 lakh tests, with a positivity percentage of 18.18%.

Mumbai on Sunday recorded 2,261 new Covid-19 cases, and 44 deaths due to Covid-19, taking the total number of cases to 1,98,864, and deaths to 8,794. There are 26,716 active cases in the city.

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