Starting Monday, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has begun targeted Covid-19 testing for a week for hawkers, shopowners, helpers and transporters in crowded markets, BEST and Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC) drivers to tap possible super-spreaders. With Diwali festivities over, the civic body expects a swell in cases fuelled by crowded shopping areas and public transport systems.
Additional Municipal Commissioner Suresh Kakani has instructed all municipal hospitals to test admitted patients before discharge, those visiting the out-patient-department in hospitals, patients in dispensaries, and health workers and security staff in hospitals. Various mathematical prediction models and experts have indicated a possible second wave after Diwali. The few days of revelry has witnessed inter-mingling of population with several even lowering their guard to wear masks and maintain physical distance.
“Hospitals began testing from yesterday. But the positivity rate is low,” Kakani said. On Monday, jumbo centre Richardson and Cruddas in Byculla tested 68 people and Mulund Jumbo facility tested 90 people; both found zero positive cases. BKC jumbo facility tested 335 and found five positive, Nair hospital found only one in 115 positive for Covid-19.
Diwali celebrations and shopping for the festival began early last week. Civic officials expect cases, if at all, to rise later this week or next. In L-ward covering Kurla, medical officer Dr Jeetendra Jadhav said they have started shortlisting crowded markets and hawkers. In K west ward covering Andheri West, medical officer Dr Gulnar Khan said they are testing all those visiting BMC dispensaries for cough, cold or fever. “In markets we are actively testing shopowners. So far no trend of increase in cases has been noticed,” Khan said.
BMC officials said they do not plan to further reduce isolation beds until the end of December to ensure they are not caught by surprise when a second wave comes. “Currently several of our Covid centres have huge vacancies. But we plan to retain all jumbo centres and beds in private hospitals,” Kakani said.
The overall positivity rate since the pandemic began in the city is 15.93 per cent. But testing numbers show day-wise positivity rate is lower, ranging between 10 and 14 per cent.
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