Mumbai civic corporation increases Covid-19 tests by 11.4% in a monthUpdated: Jun 29, 2020, 16:10 IST
To contain the spread of Covid-19, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has ramped up testing by 11.4% over the past one month. The number of tests went up to 1,33,493 between May 27 and June 26, from 1,19,825 tests between April 26 and May 26.
Mumbai recorded 1,287 fresh cases and 87 new deaths on Sunday. Of the 87 deaths, 64 were not reported in the past 24 hours, but added to the total after figures were reconciled. The city’s case tally rose to 75,539, while the toll touched 4,371. The number of discharged patients was 43,154, with a recovery rate of 57.12%. Further, active cases stood at 28,006. The fatality rate was 5.78% and doubling rate 41 days. Dharavi, one of the earlier hot spots, has been showing signs of recovery, with only 13 new cases on Sunday, The total cases in the area now stand at 2,245.
Currently, BMC claims to have a testing capacity of 8,000 tests a day. On an average, 4,306 people are being tested daily in the city. The city has carried out 3.14 lakh tests so far, according to BMC data. However, experts as well as the Opposition claim Mumbai needs to test more aggressively.
BMC has now said with procurement of 1 lakh rapid antigen kits that will deliver results in 30 minutes, the testing capacity will go up by around 2,000-2,500.
The city on an average conducted 4,306 tests daily between May 27 and June 26, compared to 3,865 between April 26 and May 26. The positivity rate in the city as of June 26 was 22.96%. The state conducted 2,73,825 tests between April 26 and May 26, compared to 4,81,705 between May 26 and June 26, according to the state health department data.
Madhav Sathe, former microbiology professor at Nair Hospital, said, “The scaling in the number of tests has happened, but it is not enough considering the population of a city like Mumbai. However, we also need to consider the challenges to conduct such a large amount of tests. The test is micro. We are focusing on rapid testing kits to bring that pace. We should test around 20,000 samples daily. With BMC procuring rapid antigen kits, there will be a scope to increase the daily testing capacity to 10,000-15,000. This will help curtail the spread. Even western countries had to face many challenges.”
BMC last week announced ‘Mission Universal Testing’ to procure 1 lakh rapid antigen kits. A BMC official said, “We will conduct 1 lakh testing using these kits in the city, and it is going to be game-changer to curtail the spread. We have allowed those above 70 years of age get tested without a prescription. Private laboratories are also allowing people to get tested based on e-prescription and high-risk contacts without any prescription. This will ensure testing increases.”
Dr Shashank Joshi, a member of Maharashtra’s Covid-19 task-force said, “Mumbai has increased its testing in the past two months, but we need to test more than what we are testing currently. We have been testing as per the protocols laid down by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), and the method changes from time to time. One has to consider that we do not have to test the whole population of Mumbai. We are doing a sero-surveillance test, where a larger population is being covered.”
Dr Joshi said, “We have to concentrate on areas or wards where the doubling rate is low. Sero-surveillance will help test maximum population.”
The surveillance helps diagnose individuals with antibodies for Sars-CoV-2 virus that causes Covid-19. The survey will be conducted in areas namely Tilak Nagar, Chembur, Matunga, Sion, Wadala, Dahisar and parts of Borivli. During sero-surveillance, residents will undergo blood tests that can detect the presence of antibodies. A total of 10,000 blood samples will be collected.
Meanwhile, former chief minister Devendra Fadnavis on Friday alleged the government and civic body were deliberately testing less to ensure the city’s daily figures don’t show a spike.