In light of the increase in Covid-19 cases in Mumbai, the BMC on Friday decided to conduct random rapid antigen tests at all crowded public places such as malls, markets, shopping complexes, bus stations and railway stations.
Senior BMC officials said that antigen testing centres will be set up outside malls and a team of healthcare workers will be deployed at crowded areas, including markets and railway stations.
Rapid antigen detection tests are quicker and take up to 30 minutes as compared to RT-PCR tests that typically take at least 24 hours to give results. As per ICMR guidelines, symptomatic persons who test negative for Covid-19 in the rapid antigen tests should go for RT-PCR test as well.
The new directions come after Mumbai on Friday recorded 3,062 new cases – the highest since the pandemic began last year, taking the city’s case load to 3,55,897. The city recorded 10 Covid-19-related deaths, taking the toll to 11,565.
As per BMC data, nearly half of the patients are asymptomatic. BMC officials said antigen tests were crucial in ensuring that transmission of the virus through asymptomatic patients is detected early.
Following the gradual relaxation of lockdown restrictions, the BMC had last September began to conduct antigen tests on hawkers and shopkeepers in areas that have witnessed a virus growth rate of more than 1 per cent.
Mumbai currently has 34 active containment zones and 305 buildings sealed. The authorities have said that the most of the new infections reported in the last two months have been from residential complexes. Between March 18 and 19, BMC had traced 16,885 high-risk contacts of the infected.