Mumbai has become the center of Covid-19 outbreak in India with over 18,555 people infected, 7,088 discharged and 1,135 dead. Last week, the city’s administration changed course with regard to protocols on testing and discharge of patients.
The BMC is now following the testing policy recommended by the Indian Council of Medical Research. This means testing priority will be for symptomatic patients, those with fever, cough or breathing difficulty. Close contacts of Covid-19 patients will be tested only if they are symptomatic, all pregnant women even if they are asymptomatic, while patients on dialysis can be tested if they are suspected of having the infection.
Close contacts who have high morbidity can be tested once between 5 and 14 days and need to be quarantined. Testing is not required for patients completing home isolation and no testing is needed at the time of discharge for mild and moderate patients.
Patients will also be discharged early, within 10 days, if they are no longer showing serious symptoms in an attempt to address the shortage of beds. Earlier they were discharged after 14 days.
The BMC is also looking to conduct door-to-door surveillance of households to look for those suffering from fever cases so that they can be isolated early.
“There is another positive development. We are seeing that politicians are finally putting their party workers to work,” said a state government official who did not wish to be quoted due to the sensitivity of the issue. “So, we bureaucrats can only get the implementation done, but when leaders are involved this will help the community to take the lockdown seriously,” an official said.
The city has tasked seven ministers to monitor the seven hotspot zones along with IAS officers to implement the lockdown. On Sunday, the Central Armed Police Forces replaced the state police who have been fatigued trying to monitor the lockdown.
Officials expect the number of cases in Mumbai to touch 30,000 by end of this month.
A big challenge for the outhorities is the shortage of beds for critical care patients. The number of isolation beds in the Covid care hospitals in the city is 3,690 and it is here where authorities are struggling to manage. Several patients seen to be in a critical condition have been turned away owing to shortage of beds. The private hospitals, all put together, have barely contributed about 200 beds.