Send details of buyers of self-test kits, BMC tells chemists
Mumbai As Covid cases are on a rise in the city, chemists are selling more and more self-test kits. However, the civic body found that they have failed to provide the details of the buyers to Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), who has now asked pharmacies to share data of the daily sale.
“Considering the sudden rise of Covid cases, we have directed manufacturers, chemists/pharmacists supplying and selling home antigen testing kits, to provide information to us. There may be some cases which have been tested on home test kits but not reported on the ICMR portal. In such cases, we cannot track the patient and it becomes difficult to contain the spread of virus,” said Dr Sanjeev Kumar, additional municipal commissioner, BMC.
Dr Kumar said that the epidemiology cell and ward team will share the data with the medical officers of the respective ward offices. “We are asking chemist shop owners to educate the buyers of self-testing kits about the application that they need to download. Through the app, the test data is connected with the ICMR Covid testing portal,” said a BMC medical officer. He said that the chemists have also been asked to counsel buyers to consult a doctor if they show symptoms.
Confirming the BMC’s directives, Nitin Maniar, secretary, retail and dispensing chemist association, Mumbai, said, “It is an important exercise as a person testing negative in the home testing kit can still be positive and spread infection. If s/he is positive on the kit, BMC should know and the person needs to follow isolation norms for the safety of the others.”
As per norms, a patient under home isolation will stand discharged and end isolation after at least seven days have passed from testing positive and no fever for three successive days and they shall continue wearing masks.
Prasad Danave, joint secretary, Maharashtra State Chemists & Druggists Association (MSCDA) said that unlike the third wave, people are buying home testing kits more from online sites than from chemists/pharmacists. “The sale of home testing kits has been less in the June surge. If there are 10 home testing kits being sold, four are from chemist shops and rest are bought online,” he said.
Danave said that the BMC should also have a mechanism to regulate the sale of self-testing kits. “We have instructed our members to abide by the rules. The chemists/pharmacists will send the details to the BMC. But will any of the e-commerce sites do the same?” questioned Danave.
As per the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) advisory dated May 19, symptomatic patients who test negative on a RAT test, must verify with an RT-PCR test. “The sensitivity of the self-testing kits is much lower than the RT PCR test. There is a major chance of missing out on positive cases if the viral load is low. Hence, it is advised to get an RT-PCR if you have symptoms but have tested negative with the home kit,” said Dr Kedar Toraskar, critical care specialist, Wockhardt Hospital and state covid task force member.
Faulty home-test kits
However, many have complained that the off-the-counter kits are faulty. Vishwanath B (73), a retired banker and resident of Borivali said, “I had bought three RAT kits from a medical shop, each worth ₹250 last week. One kit out of the three had no liquid in the container. A week later we bought three more kits and another kit had no liquid in the container.”
Prasad Danave, president of retail and dispensing chemist association, said that there have been a few complaints. “They are manufacturing defects. We either ask them to write to the manufacturers directly or give their name and number to the manufacturers,” he said.
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