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Mumbai: BMC to scale up daily testing to about 14,000

Additional Municipal Commissioner Suresh Kakani said about 85 per cent of tests will be RT-PCR, considered gold standard for Covid-19, and 15 per cent will be Rapid Antigen test, used as a tool for mass screening in containment zones.

By: Express News Service | Mumbai |
Updated: September 8, 2020 10:00:47 am
gujarat coronavirus latest updates, gujarat covid cases, gujarat covid death toll, ahmedabad news, gujarat newsDr Singh said that the dead included a 70-year-old woman from Lalru. She was admitted to GMCH, Patiala. (Representational)

With a gradual increase in the total number of Covid cases being reported in Mumbai, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) is going to scale up daily testing to 11,000-14,000 this month from an average of 7,619 tests per day in August. Additional Municipal Commissioner Suresh Kakani said about 85 per cent of tests will be RT-PCR, considered gold standard for Covid-19, and 15 per cent will be Rapid Antigen test, used as a tool for mass screening in containment zones.

From 1,000-1,200 daily new cases in August, September is noticing 1,500-1,900 fresh cases per day. BMC officials said the recent rise in cases is attributed to more testing since a week and increased socialising during Ganpati festival. On Sunday, BMC reported 11,831 tests, the highest in a single day for the city. In the first five days of September, the civic body tested 48,892 people and found 8,675 were positive.

Read| Home sample collection & test in Maharashtra to cost Rs 2,000; Rs 1,200 at lab

“We have decided to go for aggressive testing. We will rely more on RT-PCR for its accuracy than antigen tests,” Kakani said. Until June, BMC was conducting 4,000 RT-PCR tests on an average in a day, which rose to 6,500 a day in July and 7,619 tests in August, across 23 laboratories.

According to Municipal Commissioner Iqbal Singh Chahal, Mumbai hospitals will be able to handle the fresh load even if the city crosses 2,000 cases a day. As of Monday, there were 6,879 vacant beds in the city, including 152 ICUs and 3,289 oxygen beds. There, however, remains a dearth of ICUs in the private sector as more middle income and upper middle class get tested and want private hospital care.

In addition to existing infrastructure, BMC is now going to add 250 intensive care units in its jumbo centres in the next three days to plug the gap. In August, 72 nursing homes were converted into non-Covid facilities and following that move, pressure on private hospitals has increased. “The problem is that more and more people from the middle and upper middle income group are testing positive. They demand single or twin sharing rooms in private hospitals. Affluent patients are unwilling to get admitted in government centres,” an official said.

Private hospitals are most sought after and have a waiting list for admission. Hospitals like Lilavati, Breach Candy, Hiranandani, Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani have a daily wait list for ICUs. A civic official said Kokilaben hospital is even getting patients from across India for admission.

Even as BMC plans to add 250 more ICU beds in its kitty, civic officials said they need to counsel patients to get admitted in jumbo facilities in BKC, NESCO, Mulund, NSCI Worli and Richardson and Cruddas.

Since Unlock 4.0 was announced last week, civic officials said intra-district movement and movement within the city has suddenly increased. Compliance to wear masks has also reduced. “Any time we find a violation of people not wearing a mask, we fine the person Rs 1,000. But in the last few days, movement of people has increased and most now step out without a mask,” said Dr Gulnar Khan, medical officer in K-West ward. Juhu beach, under K-West, remains the most populated spot every evening, with people coming for a stroll without a mask.

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