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Mumbai reports 4,758 Covid-19 cases: Longer wait time, queues at test centres

In a grim indicator of the worsening Covid-19 situation, queues at RT-PCR testing centres in Mumbai have increased, with a waiting time that ranges between 3 to 4 hours for swab collection. The test reports now take up to 48 hours to arrive.

Written by Tabassum Barnagarwala | Mumbai |
Updated: March 31, 2021 7:14:49 am
A queue outside a Covid-19 testing centre. (Express Photo: Deepak Joshi)

In a grim indicator of the worsening Covid-19 situation, queues at RT-PCR testing centres in Mumbai have increased, with a waiting time that ranges between 3 to 4 hours for swab collection. The test reports now take up to 48 hours to arrive.

On Tuesday, Mumbai reported 4,758 cases. The figure was lower than the preceding days as testing had halved on Holi.

Several hospitals and jumbo centres in Mumbai now have Covid-19 patients waitlisted for admission. There is a shortage of beds as most patients, despite being asymptomatic or having mild symptoms, need hospital beds for isolation, as they do not have space for the same at home.

The city is diagnosing 6,000 to 7,000 cases a day, with 80 per cent of the patients asymptomatic. For patients who live in chawls and slums, self-isolation is a challenge, officials said. Of the 3,241 beds in Covid Care Centre-2 meant for mildly ill or asymptomatic patients, 2,219 are already full.

In KEM hospital, a long queue of people stood under the harsh sun for RT-PCR tests on Tuesday. There was only one doctor to fill their forms and direct them towards testing booths. Doctors in the hospital said that the number of people visiting for a test has increased in the last one week.

Tushar Warankar, who stood in queue for an hour on Tuesday, said he has fever, cough and cold since March 17. “Since the last two days, I am coming to the hospital. Yesterday, my turn came by 2 pm, but the hospital had shut its testing counter by then,” he added.

Senior citizen Suman Bhoir, who required a Covid-19 negative report for an eye surgery, stood in queue for three hours. “There is no place to sit,” she said.

Mumbai is testing 45,000 to 50,000 people a day. In some centres, patients are told that reports will be given after 48 hours. Assistant Medical Officer Dr Pravin Bangar said, “We are trying our best with available resources.” KEM hospital has 170 beds for Covid-19 patients. All are full, Bangar said.

In BKC jumbo centre, Dr David Mascarehens said of the over 1,000 beds, only 50 are vacant. The centre admits both mildly and severely ill patients. “We are asking asymptomatic and mildly ill patients to contact local wards and isolate in community centres,” he added. Dean Dr Rajesh Dere said by this week, 800 more beds will become operational.

Several mildly ill patients from nearby slums stood waiting for a bed outside the centre on Tuesday. Sanjay Sonawane, a resident of Bandra, said: “Officials said they will let me know if a bed is available. I can’t return home, will infect my family.”

Bombay HC vaccine drive

Mumbai: Deferring the decision on representations by lawyers for hybrid hearing of cases before principal seat in Mumbai due to a surge in Covid-19 cases, the Bombay HC on Tuesday, in conjunction with BMC, decided to conduct Covid-19 vaccination drive for HC judges, lawyers, their spouses and staff, all aged above 45 years from April 2 to 4. ENS

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