In an attempt to scale up its Covid-19 testing capacity up to 24,000 a day, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has planned to have at least four walk-in Covid-19 testing facilities in each of the 24 administrative wards of the city. All ward officials will be directed to identify spots where testing facilities will come up likely by next week.
Citizens will be able to approach these facilities for Covid-19 testing between specified timings that are yet to be decided. Covid-19 tests conducted at civic-run or government-run facilities are free of cost. Authorities also anticipate a surge in Covid-19 cases in the upcoming festive month for which strict wearing of masks and no overcrowding will be enforced.
Suresh Kakani, additional municipal commissioner (health), said, “We are chalking out the plan to execute walk-in testing facilities in all wards. The timings for testing and staff required will likely be finalised by this weekend. We are taking utmost care and have intensified our campaign for strict masking. The public movement on roads has also increased and it is necessary to ensure there is no overcrowding at places.”
Civic officials said that the plan is to have adequate testing facilities in a decentralised manner. Currently, there are very few civic testing camps in several wards and some of the wards have even shifted these camps to major civic hospitals or civic dispensaries only. A senior civic official said, “Testing camps are intensified once there is a surge in cases from a particular area. Ward officials monitor their areas to decide how frequent these camps are to be set up.”
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Since September, the BMC conducts anywhere between 8, 000- 15,000 Covid-19 tests on a daily basis, 30-40 percent of which were comprised of rapid antigen tests. The civic body has now marked a target of conducting up to 24,000 Covid-19 tests in the city daily. “Now as we see the pandemic receding, we do not want another Covid peak in Diwali. Increasing testing capacity is just one component of containing the spread of the virus but intensifying strict mask policies and avoiding overcrowding at places will ensure better results,” said Shashank Joshi, member of state’s Covid-19 task force.
Mumbai crossed the 10-lakh-mark of Covid-19 tests on September 20 and has so far conducted 15.13 lakh tests. Of these, 2.56 lakh individuals have tested positive for Covid-19 so far.