The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has initiated the process of purchasing real-time polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test kits after the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) discontinued its supply to states from September. The current stock of RT-PCR kits with the BMC will last till end-October, officials said.
In August, the ICMR had announced it will cease the supply of test kits free-of-charge and asked states have to buy their respective stock. An RT-PCR test is considered to be the most reliable Covid-19 testing method as compared to rapid antigen tests, where there are high chances of ‘false negative’. The average cost of a RT-PCR kit is Rs 450.
In Mumbai, the civic body is conducting about 11,000 to 12,000 Covid-19 tests daily, of which nearly 70 per cent are done using RT-PCR test kits. Since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, the BMC was receiving the testing kits from the ICMR free-of-charge.
Additional Municipal Commissioner Suresh Kakani said there are three to four companies authorised by the central government for the purchase of these RT-PCR kits. “We have initiated the process of buying these test kits. Tenders will be floated to appoint a firm for supply of the kits,” Kakani said.
Asked about the number of kits to be purchased, he said, “It will be based on the requirement but initial quantity could be around 50,000 kits and they can purchase more as and when the requirement increases.”
The move is expected to increase the financial burden on the BMC, which is already facing a loss of revenue owing to the pandemic. So far, the BMC has incurred a loss of over Rs 5,000 crore. In August, the civic body had purchased 50,000 antigen test kits, most of which were used on frontline workers.
According to its data, the municipal corporation has, so far, conducted 10.57 lakh tests in Mumbai and recorded 18.18 per cent positivity rate.
There are over 1.96 lakh Covid-19 positive patients in the city and 8,747 fatalities due to the virus. With increased testing, Mumbai is recording over 2,000 cases daily since last one month.
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