Covid-19 testing in Mumbai increased by 50% in the past 10 days

With the anticipated peak in Covid-19 cases in December during the ongoing festival season, Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has increased testing by around 50% in the past 10 days. November 25 saw the highest number of tests conducted in a single day in Mumbai till date, at 19,018, of which 10,500 were rapid antigen tests, and the remaining were reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) tests. So far, Mumbai has conducted a total of 18,71,125 Covid-19 tests.

The number of Covid-19 tests conducted in a single day in the month of October peaked at around 16,500. However, the number of tests declined to a maximum of 13,500 tests in the first two weeks of November and further dropped to as low as 4,000 tests per day during Diwali between November 14 and November 16. In the past 10 days, BMC has scaled testing by 40% to 50%. On November 27, 16,902 tests were conducted in Mumbai; followed by 17,973 tests next days and 19,018 tests on November 25. Of them, approximately 50% were rapid antigen tests. This figure is likely to further go up in the coming days.

Suresh Kakani, additional municipal commissioner in-charge of BMC’s public health department said, “We are trying to plug all gaps to check the spread of Covid-19 in the community, especially as public interaction at the community level has increased greatly due to the festival season, and unlocking of the state.”

BMC is now conducting tests at airports and railway stations which are landing points for people coming into the city from other states. It is also targeting households that were found locked during the My Family My Responsibility surveys, considering the reverse migration. BMC is targeting crowded areas and workplaces. Also, BEST bus drivers and conductors are being tested.

“Considering the economic background of vegetable vendors and hawkers in markets, they are likely to take BEST buses. The bus conductors come in contact with a large number of people daily, hence, we want to ensure we tap positive persons in time and isolate them from the community by quarantining them on time,” Kakani added.

If any person tested at airports and railway stations returned home before their results are found positive, high-risk contacts in the families are tested as well.

However, the positivity rate has remained between 6% and 8%, versus the average positivity rate of 15%. This has been attributed to a high number of rapid antigen tests conducted daily, which have a lower rate of accuracy. While positivity per cent of RT-PCR tests is between 10% and 12%, the positivity rate of antigen tests is only 3% or 4%.

Kakani said, “If an antigen test result shows negative, but the person is showing symptoms or is a high risk, BMC is conducting RT-PCR tests on these persons again.”

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