BMC begins rapid antigen tests, north Mumbai will be priorityUpdated: Jul 04, 2020 00:40 IST
A day after receiving one lakh rapid antigen kits from a South Korean company, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) started testing for Covid-19 from Friday.
Considering the growing number of Covid-19 cases in the northern parts of the city, BMC will run a majority of tests in those wards.
BMC procured 1 lakh kits from South Korean firm SD Biosensors , the only company approved by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), on Thursday night. According to the protocol, every positive report from the testing will be treated as ‘true positive’, while negative samples will have to be mandatorily re-tested by RT-PCR process. Every day, 2,000 rapid tests will be conducted, which will push the number of daily tests in the city to 7,000.
Currently, BMC is conducting 3,500-5,000 reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) tests daily.
Like RT-PCR, rapid antigen kits detect the presence of molecular pathogens of the coronavirus. RT-PCR takes almost eight hours to give results, while reports of the antigen-based test that uses nasal swab samples are out within 30 minutes.
In the initial stage, BMC will run tests on suspected patients and high-risk contacts in wards namely R-N (Dahisar), R-C (Borivli West), R-S (Kandivli), P-N (Malad), P-S (Goregaon), K-E (Andheri East) and K-W (Andheri West).
According to BMC’s data, K-E has reported the highest number of Covid-19 cases (5507). K-W is in the fourth position with over 4,706 cases, as of Thursday.
“Along with this, we will start testing symptomatic patients from hospitals to get faster reports,” said Suresh Kakani, additional commissioner, BMC.
BMC plans to gradually start testing high-risk contacts of infected patients from containment zones to find more patients, especially those who are asymptomatic. Almost 40,000 Covid-19 frontliners will also undergo the test, BMC officials said.
“With more testing, the number of cases will also increase. But this will also ensure early treatment of patients. Expecting a surge in cases, we have also increased the bed strength in intensive care unit (ICU) to over 1,500,” said Dr Shashank Joshi, a member of the Covid-19 state task force.
Medical experts have welcomed the civic body’s move to begin rapid antigen testing.
“In Mumbai, almost 80% patients are still not identified as asymptomatic. Although they don’t have symptoms like cough and cold, the chances of them spreading the infection is less, but they are still infectious. The more we identify and isolate them, the chain of reaction will break,” said Dr Abhijit More, co-convenor, Jan Aarogya Abhiyan.
With the relaxation of the lockdown, epidemiologists said sero-survey and antigen testing will provide the real picture.
“Sars-Cov-2 (the virus which causes Covid-19) is still unknown to us. We need more data and analysis to understand its demographic and geographical outspread. Rapid test is not only fast, but the kit is also pocket-friendly. It’s the need of the hour,” said Dr Lancelot Pinto, city epidemiologist from Hinduja Hospital.