Private labs in Mumbai permitted to conduct RT-PCR tests without prescriptions!
In an effort to optimise their testing capacity, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation has revised Covid testing guidelines for the 9th time in the city. According to the new guidelines, a doctor's prescription is no longer required to get tested for Covid-19 in Mumbai. This decision comes in the wake of an instruction issued by the centre to the state asking it to maximize their Covid testing capacity to its true potential.
Asymptomatic, Symptomatic patients alike
The BMC has decided that no prescription or self-declaration is required for Covid-19 testing for symptomatic or asymptomatic individuals. Earlier, only patients with symptoms and a doctor's prescription were allowed to get tested. Mumbaikars can now get themselves tested for coronavirus infection at designated private laboratories without a prescription. The laboratories will cap the testing fee at ₹2500 as regulated by the government. The rate is fixed at ₹2,800 if the test is conducted at home.
The BMC said that the laboratories are free to conduct RT-PCR test for any individual in accordance with the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) guidelines. These guidelines state that antigen tests at all containment zones or hotspots in Mumbai must be performed on-site under strict medical supervision and the testing kit temperature must be maintained between 2 and 30 degrees celsius.
Under its new initiative of "trace-test-track-treat", the BMC is targeting early detection of Covid-19 cases. Asymptomatic patients who are hospitalised or seeking hospitalisation and fall in high risk group. Those undergoing chemotherapy, immuno-suppressed patients including those with HIV, elderly patients, can also be tested using the antigen tests. Additionally, asymptomatic patients with direct high-risk contacts with co-morbidities have to be tested between day 5 and day 10 of coming in contact with a corona patient. People who are in institutional quarantine would be allowed to return their homes only after they test negative.
This comes as a relief to citizens who want to get tested for coronavirus without having symptoms or a high-risk contact. The city has the capacity to conduct 10,000 tests daily, including both private and government labs. So far these labs have been operating at 50% of their potential and about 5,000 tests are being conducted in Mumbai everyday.
With the testing facility now being made available to all, the capacity to identify the virus in asymptomatic groups is set to increase. This will help the city to fight the pandemic more efficiently. Precaution is definitely better than cure and the city of Mumbai is doing just that!