COVID-19 Testing in Mumbai Drops by 40% In Three Weeks

COVID-19 Testing in Mumbai Drops by 40% In Three Weeks

A new report has found that the number of coronavirus tests in Mumbai has fallen by almost 40 per cent over the past three weeks. It is said that among the factors behind the reduction in testing is the discontinuation of aggressive door-to-door surveillance that was carried out last year. 

In addition to detecting cases, aggressively testing citizens allows officials to map out areas or zones that have a high volume of cases and take effective measures accordingly. A civic official said that since Mumbai is currently under partial lockdown, there are no people to test in public places. 

The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) on March 23 said that it would randomly perform more than 40,000 rapid antigen tests (RAT) at crowded places to detect cases. 

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However, most malls and other public places continue to be shut across Mumbai. Testing at vegetable markets has also dropped since most vendors operate exclusively in the mornings due to the new restrictions.

BMC officials claim that the standard RT-PCR test, which is considered to be most effective in detecting COVID-19, has also seen a dip. Private labs are reportedly not motivated to collect samples at individual homes now that costs of a single test have fallen from Rs 4,500 in March 2020 to just Rs 600 to 800 as of recently. 

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The civic body’s 'My Family, My Responsibility’ campaign in September 2020 empowered community health workers to survey and/or test individuals across all houses of a given civic ward. However, health workers are now conducting contact-tracing and surveillance of reported cases only until 2 PM. 

The BMC’s initial call to test delivery personnel, along with workers at industries and hotels at least once per fortnight was relaxed to reduce the burden on testing laboratories. This is also a likely contributor to the reduction in cases as daily detections drop significantly. 

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