Anticipating a surge in Covid-19 cases after Ganesh Chaturthi, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has instructed ward officers to ramp up daily testing for Covid. The civic body aims to conduct around 60,000 tests daily including rapid antigen tests (RAT) for early identification of infected patients.
Amid the ongoing Ganpati festival, Covid-19 tests have plummeted in the city. As per BMC data, on September 10, the civic body conducted around 50,000 tests which dropped to 29,849 on Sunday (September 12) and 25,581 on Monday.
Last year, the pandemic curve had witnessed a surge after Ganesh Chaturthi due to violation of Covid-appropriate behavior.
“Due to the festival, the number of tests is low. But we have instructed ward officers to increase testing after the festival is over. We are eyeing at increasing tests up to 60,000 daily so that we can identify infected patients early,” said Suresh Kakani, additional municipal commissioner.
In the past week, the test positivity rate (TPR) has risen to more than 1% which was around 0.8% earlier. For instance, on Monday, TRP was 1.36%. With this in mind, the civic body has plans to set up RAT desks in each ward. “We will run RAT on the floating crowds in populated areas, especially at railway stations, markets, and malls. We will also test shopkeepers and vendors,” said Kakani.
Though medical experts have welcomed the move, they laid emphasis on conducting more RT-PCR tests, which has a higher accuracy rate than RAT.
Dr. Kedar Toraskar, a critical care specialist at Wockhardt Hospital and member of the state’s Covid-19 taskforce, said, “Testing and vaccination hold the key to controlling the anticipated third wave. We need to test more than 60,000 people daily before the pandemic curve surges again. This will not only control the transmission rate but also help in early treatment which will lessen mortality rate.”
With the festive season beginning in the city, BMC has urged people to follow Covid-appropriate behavior and get tested immediately if they have any symptoms.
Dr. Ramakanta Panda said parents should pray from home and not take children to visit pandals.
Dr. Panda said Sars-CoV-2 — the virus that causes Covid-19 — enters the body through ACE2 receptor, the protein which provides the entry point to the virus to hook into and infect a wide range of human cells. These receptors are not matured in children. However, as seen in the second wave, a large number of children contacted Covid-19 and a certain percentage of them also developed complications.
“Rare but severe incidences of systemic inflammatory diseases have been found as a result of Covid-19 in kids. In the absence of a vaccine for children, it is best that families pray from home,” he said.
As HT reported earlier, BMC has changed testing rules where high-risk and close relatives of Covid-19 positive patients will be tested on that day itself instead of waiting for five-seven days.