Mumbai News

Few Mumbaikars test early due to stigma – Times of India

MUMBAI: Mumbai conducts a fourth of the Covid-19 tests that Delhi does. It’s because, BMC officials claim, they do it in a targeted manner and there is a reluctance, bordering on fear, the average Mumbaikar harbours against a positive diagnosis.
Dr Shashank Joshi, a member of the state task force on Covid-19, said, “People should test as soon as they develop symptoms but Mumbaikars get tested after 5-7 days.” The reason for the delay, he says, is the widespread stigma of Covid-19.

‘Targeted testing of symptomatic persons & contacts reason for higher positivity in city’
The administration has to take steps to destigmatise Covid. It is the only way we can reach people early and treat them adequately to reduce complications,” he said.
While Mumbai recently increased the quota of tests to 15,000 a day, Delhi on Tuesday conducted over 62,000 tests. On Wednesday, Mumbai registered 2,352 cases and 50 deaths while Delhi has been averaging 4,000 positive cases a day. The positivity rate in Mumbai continues to be high at over 18% while Delhi’s is 6% to 7%.
Epidemiologists maintain a lower positivity rate indicates adequate testing and provides a better indicator of the infection’s spread in the community. But a senior BMC official said, “People are not coming forward for tests. One cannot force someone to get tested. Also, there is no need to conduct random testing and waste resources.” Another official said the only people who visited a free testing facility in a parking premises at Dadar West were workers, maids and drivers whose employers insisted on a test.
A senior doctor in a private hospital said the present Covid-19 wave is confined to highrises where people are worried they will be taken to an “inadequate” or “dirty” public hospital or jumbo facility. “So they wait before testing for Covid.”
At present, 60% of the 15,000 tests conducted daily in Mumbai are antigen tests whose results are available in 30 minutes and 40% are done using the gold standard RT-PCR tests. Mumbai has a capacity of 10,000 RT-PCR tests daily, but only uses 60% at present.
Additional municipal commissioner Suresh Kakani said, “We conduct targeted testing as per ICMR guideline. We test symptomatic persons, high-risk contacts and those living in containment zones. Targeted testing is the reason our positivity rate is higher than Delhi.”
The official admitted more testing would mean more cases and would worsen the shortage of beds. An official said, “Targeted testing helps provide focused treatment to those who needed it the most.” But, he admitted, people feel safer in hospitals and that should be the reason to get tested at the earliest.