The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has started to conduct antigen tests on hawkers and shopkeepers for the novel coronavirus disease in the areas that have witnessed more than one per cent virus growth rate. The civic body’s move comes on the heels of the gradual relaxations in lockdown restrictions over the last month under which all shops have been allowed to reopen.
While the city’s average Covid-19 growth rate is 0.90 per cent, in at least nine civic wards it has been recorded above 1 per cent. So far, Mumbai has recorded 1.50 lakh Covid-19 cases, including 7,761 deaths. There are 21,442 active cases in the city.
On August 5, the BMC had allowed all shops to operate, revoking its previous odd-and-even rule. With most markets resuming business, BMC officials said, the Covid-19 tests were crucial to ensure that transmission of the virus through hawkers and shopkeepers to their customers could be contained.
As per the BMC data, R Central ward (Borivali) has the highest virus growth rate of 1.46 per cent, followed by H West ward (Bandra west, Khar Road West) with 1.40 per cent, R South (Kandivali) with 1.22 per cent and R North (Dahisar) with 1.16 per cent.
Over the last few days, the BMC has organised several special camps to test hawkers and shopkeepers across wards.
Sandhya Nandedkar, Assistant Municipal Commissioner, R North ward said, “We have held special camps near markets and prominent shopping locations. Our staff is reaching out to shopkeepers and hawkers to get them self-tested before they start business. In the last more than a week, we have tested about 350 shopkeepers and hawkers.” Of the 350, only four have been found positive for the virus, Nandedkar said. R North will conduct another round of testing for hawkers and shopkeepers, she added.
Civic health workers, meanwhile, are also counselling shopkeepers to get their staff tested. Most shopkeepers and hawkers, they said, have shown reluctance towards tests. “It is very difficult to convince them as many of them feel that if they are found positive then they will have to go for quarantine. Our staff has to explain to them the importance of the tests to contain the disease,” Nandedkar said.
The civic body will start rapid antigen testing at Bhuleshwar and Kalbadevi areas, which have some of the biggest textile markets, from Saturday. “We have appealed to all big cloth market owners and staff to get their tests done. From Saturday, we will start testing in these markets,” said Chakrapani Alle, Assistant Municipal Commissioner, C ward (Chandanwadi, Kalbadevi).
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines