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Covid-19: Mumbai to ramp up testing to 4,000 a day

By Sohini Das and Aneesh Phadnis
April 21, 2020 12:56 IST
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Mumbai, with an estimated population of nearly 20 million, has been testing 1,200-1,400 people per day. Delay in the delivery of rapid antibody test kits has forced the municipal corporation to restrict its testing net.
Sohini Das and Aneesh Phadnis report.


IMAGE: A medic collects a swab sample of a man from a new testing cabin at Podar hospital in Worli, central Mumbai. Photograph: Kunal Patil/PTI Photo

Mumbai, the country’s worst-hit city by the novel coronavirus, is now trying to ramp up testing, even as it awaits the delivery of rapid antibody test kits.

"Testing has increased, and we are testing around 4,000 people daily. We are following guidelines of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), and utilising all available resources to test immediate and high-risk contacts of positive cases and all those with COVID-19 symptoms," Dr Daksha Shah, deputy executive health officer, Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), said.

Earlier, Mumbai, which has an estimated population of nearly 20 million, was testing 1,200-1,400 people per day.

She added that door-to-door screening had been carried out in Worli and Dharavi, and that they would expand the door-to-door screening in other areas.

The city, however, is waiting for the rapid antibody kits.

"We have given order for rapid antibody test kits, but we are yet to receive them. For rapid antibody tests too ICMR guidelines will be followed," Shah said.

Maharashtra, which saw the biggest single-day spike in new coronavirus cases at 552 on Sunday, recorded 466 new Covid-19 cases on Monday, taking the state tally to 4,666 with 232 deaths.

Mumbai alone has reported 3,032 cases with 139 deaths so far. There were nine Covid-19 related deaths in the state on Monday, with seven of those recorded in Mumbai and two in Malegaon.

One reason for the increase in positive cases is the backlog of test results.

The machines used for tests are handling more samples than their capacity, leading to glitches and reruns.

"There was a backlog of test results from April 12, but now we have cleared 75-80 per cent of it," said Suresh Kakani, additional municipal commissioner of BMC.

Delay in the delivery of a batch of antibody-based rapid diagnostic test kits, which was to reach the state around April 10, has forced the BMC to restrict its testing net to symptomatic or high-risk contacts of Covid-19 positive patients.

In fact, the municipality has issued a show-cause notice to Metropolis Healthcare, a private diagnostic lab, after it learnt that the lab was testing patients who were neither high-risk contacts nor showing any symptoms of the novel coronavirus.

The state health department bulletin said a total of 76,092 samples had been tested till Monday.

Ramping up of testing is an imperative in the light of the fact that 81 per cent positive patients had no symptoms.

Around 17 per cent patients in Maharashtra so far were symptomatic, and of these around 2 per cent were admitted in intensive care units (ICUs).

There are 364 active containment zones in the state currently. Surveillance squads are monitoring a population of over 2 million daily.

Currently, 93,655 people are in home quarantine and 6,879 people are in institutional quarantine in the state.

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Sohini Das and Aneesh Phadnis in Mumbai
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The War Against Coronavirus

The War Against Coronavirus