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Private Labs in Mumbai Ramp up COVID-19 Testing Capacity as Cases Mount


Private Labs in Mumbai Ramp up COVID-19 Testing Capacity as Cases Mount
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Private laboratories in Mumbai are ramping up testing capacity to keep up with the increasing demand for coronavirus tests amidst the new surge. Officials said that daily testing in the metropolitan city has now reached 55,000, which is a 3.5x increase from a month ago. 

Despite ramping up capacity and hiring more technicians, citizens are still waiting for three to four days for the results to arrive in some instances. “The focus is currently on hiring more professionals and phlebotomists and training them in the process of sample collection and testing to manage the growing demand,” CEO of SRL Diagnostics, Anand K said.

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Private lab Thyrocare is undertaking 18,000 to 20,000 tests per day in Mumbai which is up from around 3,000 to 4,000 daily tests in February. 

Vice-President of Thyrocare, Sachin Salvi said that the lab has hired a franchise to provide technicians for sample collection adding that the lab is maintaining two months’ worth of testing kits as buffer stock. Salvi further said that they are not experiencing any shortage of technicians.

Microbiologist at Sion Hospital, Dr Sujata Baveja said, “One needs certain qualification for collecting blood sample, but swab collection is easy. All our resident doctors and health workers are trained in it. It does not require more than two to three days of training and observation.” 

He went on to say that they have prioritized samples coming from the BMC, followed by samples received from hospitals, walk-in patients, corporates, and people who need a negative certificate for travel. 

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Another private lab, Suburban Diagnostics has reportedly doubled the number of technicians while also increasing PCR instruments required to decipher the results of the swab. While the lab previously took around 36 hours to process samples, it now takes 24 hours for the test result.

“We are asking people who need RT-PCR negative report for flights or for office purposes to approach private labs. We are focussing on people who have symptoms,” said Dr Ajit Pampatwar, Medical Officer of the K-West ward (Andheri). 

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