Daily Covid-19 test target puts additional financial burden on PMC
PUNE The state government’s order of daily Covid-19 test target for all civic bodies in the state has put the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) in a soup as the increased RT-PCR tests mean additional financial burden on the civic body.
The PMC which has a population of 35.38 lakh has a target to conduct 5,840 tests daily, according to the target set by the state government. Currently, the PMC conducts about 2,900 tests daily. However, it is now pondering on the expenses it might have to incur to keep up with the target.
Rubal Agarwal, additional municipal commissioner, said, “Currently, we have maintained a ratio of about 75:25 RT-PCR and RAT Covid-19 tests which means that we have maintained the proportion as recommended by the state government.”
“We have already spoken to the National Institute of Virology and its current capacity is not enough to suffice the new targets and if we speak with private laboratories it will cost the civic body dearly,” she said.
As per the target of 5,840 Covid-19 tests daily, the civic body has to conduct at least 75 per cent of the tests through RT-PCR by February 2021. This would mean that the civic body will have to conduct at least 4,380 RT-PCR tests every day and at the cost of Rs 1,000 per test, so it will have to shell out Rs 43,80,000 every day.
Dr Sanjeev Wavare, assistant health officer, PMC, said, “We do not have a bifurcation as such but about 30-35 per cent of the tests are RAT while others are all RT-PCR and we are decreasing our dependence on RAT.”
“We have 16 private labs for RT-PCR while five government labs. The civic body sends its samples only to the government facilities which offer services for free. However, due to limited testing capacity at government facilities, the PMC might have to depend on private testing laboratories which may cost dearly,” he said.
The state government in its letter wrote that the civic bodies may use their CSR funds or the local funds to meet the expenses due to the increased expenditure.