Only 0.8% of frontline workers from the Solid Waste Management (SWM) department have tested positive for Covid-19 in the rapid antigen tests conducted by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation since July 24.
A total of 14,527 staffers from the department, most of whom are from the conservancy workers involved in garbage collection and waste management, besides supervisory staff have undergone rapid antigen tests, civic officials said. Of the total, 14,410 workers tested negative for the virus.
Only four of the 117 staffers who were found positive are symptomatic and they have been shifted to Covid Care Centres, officials added.
The maximum number of rapid antigen tests, on 1,652 staffers, were conducted in P North (Malad) ward, followed by 1,625 at D ward (Malabar Hill, Grant Road). Fifteen positive cases were reported from D ward, while G North ward (Dadar, Dharavi) had 13 cases. Rapid antigen detection tests are quicker and take up to 30 minutes as compared to RT-PCR tests which typically take at least 24 hours to provide results. As per ICMR guidelines, symptomatic persons who test negative for Covid-19 in the rapid antigen tests should be followed up with an RT-PCR test.
Additional Municipal Commissioner Suresh Kakani said if a staffer, who has tested negative for Covid-19 in the rapid antigen test, develops symptoms of the infection later then they can go for RT-PCR tests. “We have developed a mechanism under which if any staffer shows symptoms then the junior overseer, who is in-charge of labourers, will inform the respective Assistant Engineers so that they can undergo RT-PCR tests. The positive thing is that so far very few staffers, who have already undergone antigen tests, have shown symptoms for the viral disease,” Kakani said.
A total of 27,000 labourers and 4,000 NGO workers in the SWM department are engaged in waste management, while there are around 3,500 supervisory staff. The BMC plans to test all the department staffers and has procured one lakh test kits in the first week of July from a South Korean firm. “The drive will go on and all the frontline workers will be tested. We are conducting special testing camps in schools and near SWM chowkies,” an official from the SWM department said.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines