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Thursday, April 15, 2021

Mumbai conducts more antigen tests, RT-PCR numbers see a dip

Since more tests are being conducted in the wake of a surge in cases, of the total number of tests being conducted daily, RT-PCR tests have dropped to below 50 per cent from 69 per cent in the last week of February.

Written by Sanjana Bhalerao | Mumbai |
Updated: April 4, 2021 2:34:41 am
COVID-19 news Mumbai BMC, since March 23, has increased its daily Covid-19 testing numbers from 20,000 to 40,000 (Express Photo)

WHILE BMC, since March 23, has increased its daily Covid-19 testing numbers from 20,000 to 40,000, a closer look at the data reveals that Mumbai is relying more on rapid antigen tests, which gives results in 20 to 30 minutes, rather than RT-PCR tests that takes 24 to 48 hours to generate results.

Since more tests are being conducted in the wake of a surge in cases, of the total number of tests being conducted daily, RT-PCR tests have dropped to below 50 per cent from 69 per cent in the last week of February.

This comes amid the Union government advising states to conduct at least 70 per cent of tests through RT-PCR, which is considered the gold standard for Covid-19 testing. Antigen tests have more scope for false negatives even if a person is infected.

Between March 23 and April 1, BMC has tested over 40,000 samples a day, compared to 20,000 to 23,000 tests daily in February and the first 20 days of March.

The 24 administrative wards have been instructed to conduct random tests on people at high footfall areas, including seven railway stations, Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation’s bus depots as well as malls and markets.
According to civic officials, the large floating population can be better targeted by rapid antigen tests, which gives results within 30 minutes. Each ward has been given a target of testing 1,000 people a day, focusing on crowded places.
Asked about the reliability of rapid antigen tests, BMC Commissioner Iqbal Singh Chahal had told mediapersons last week: “We would like to perform 60,000 tests a day and even more. But we have certain limitations with RT-PCR kits’ capacity. Last year, we could initially only test 10,000 people through RT-PCR daily, the number gradually increased to 22,000 to 23,000. We would like to increase the ratio of RT-PCR testing, but we have virtually exhausted RT-PCR kits. The choice now is to conduct at least 20,000 antigen tests and detect at least 8 per cent of the infected and isolate them.”
Meanwhile, in almost a year, while the BMC has collected fine worth Rs 49.15 crore from the people for travelling without masks in public areas, Mumbai Police collected Rs 4.88 crore for the same.

Also, suburban local travellers have paid fine worth Rs 44.24 lakh for not wearing masks in trains and stations. In all, 24.37 lakh people have been fined for not following Covid-19 appropriate behaviour.

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