Target festival returnees for Covid tests, BMC tells field staff | Mumbai news - Hindustan Times
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Target festival returnees for Covid tests, BMC tells field staff

ByJyoti Shelar, Mumbai
Sep 17, 2021 08:06 PM IST

The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) fears that the number of Covid cases may increase with the inflow of festival returnees and this targeted testing strategy aims at combatting the spread

As Covid-19 cases continue to soar in some regions of Maharashtra, the civic body has sent out special instructions to target people returning to the city after travelling for the Ganesh festival. The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) fears that the number of infections may increase with the inflow of people and this testing strategy aims at combatting the spread.

Devotees at Ganesha idol immersion site at Girgaon Chowpatty. Healthcare workers are going door-to-door asking people who have returned after travelling for festival to come and get tested. (Anshuman Poyrekar/HT PHOTO)
Devotees at Ganesha idol immersion site at Girgaon Chowpatty. Healthcare workers are going door-to-door asking people who have returned after travelling for festival to come and get tested. (Anshuman Poyrekar/HT PHOTO)

The state’s weekly positivity rate as of September 14 stood at 2.6%. Mumbai had a much lower positivity rate at 1.3%. However, some districts like Pune (5.8%), Ahmednagar (5.5%), Sangli (3.8%), Nashik (3.7%), Satara (3.5%), Osmanabad (3.2%), Palghar (3.1%) and Sindhudurg (3%) have higher positivity rate compared to the states average.

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“Many people travel to their villages or hometown for the Ganesh festival and any such travel can lead to a spurt in the city’s Covid-19 infections,” said additional municipal commissioner Suresh Kakani. “We have therefore asked our field staff to target people with travel history for testing in order the catch the infections early,” he said.

Kakani said that the civic body is also setting up testing camps in localities. Healthcare workers are going door-to-door asking people who have returned after travelling to come and get tested. Emphasis is put on those who have the slightest of symptoms or those who have come in contact when someone who has tested positive.

The daily caseload in Mumbai has been under 500 for the past two months, crossing the 500-mark in a few days. The state’s daily caseload has been fluctuating between 3,000 to 4,000 over the past fortnight. Health officials have predicted the possibility of a surge with the lockdown restrictions eased and excessive travel between districts.

“Screening at the points of entry into the city and targetted testing of people with travel history is a good idea,” said Soumitra Ghosh, associate professor at the Centre for Health Policy, planning and management, Tata Institute of Social Sciences.

“Another important intervention should be to target areas that are reporting more cases,” he said.

Most recently, the civic body tweaked its testing policy and asked all the wards to test symptomatic individuals and high-risk contacts within the first or second day itself, instead of waiting for the fifth or sixth day as mandated earlier. The civic body has now asked the wards to do a follow-up test on the fifth or sixth day in case the first one is negative.

“Our circular issued about 10-day sago stated that individuals should be tested immediately, and one must not wait till the symptoms are more pronounced or for the symptoms to arise in case of high-risk contacts,” said Kakani.

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