Need Robust Testing, Say Experts as COVID Tests Fall in Mumbai

Number of COVID-19 tests conducted in Mumbai during the Diwali weekend, dipped below 50 percent

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COVID-19
2 min read
A medic collects a sample of a resident of Mamledarwadi for a COVID-19 test, at Malad in Mumbai on 16 July. Image used for representational purpose only.
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The number of COVID-19 tests conducted in Mumbai during the Diwali weekend, dipped below 50 percent when compared to the daily average of November 2020. While the average number of daily tests in November has been between 10,000-12,000, on Saturday, 14 November this number dropped to 5,399. It dropped further on Sunday, 15 November to 3,918 tests.

Drop Due to Diwali Weekend? Or COVID Fatigue?

Pointing out the likely reason for this trend, Dr Om Srivastava, who is the Director for infectious diseases at Jaslok Hospital, said, “A lot of times during these festivities, it (testing) becomes less because there’s a mindset where people think, ‘We’ll do it after these 3 or 4 days’. That also contributes towards the mindset that, 'Look, it’s a common cold, it will go away’. There’s a combination of factors why people don’t get tested during festivities but that is not a very good idea.”

Dr Srivastava added that the city needs a very robust testing system now more than ever. The number of Mumbaikars opting to undergoing COVID tests usually drops by about 20-25 percent every weekend, but could the recent significant drop be written off as a one-time occurrence? A result of the festive season? Dr Deepak Baid, President for the Association of Medical Consultancy in Mumbai is not so sure.

“Patients themselves are reluctant to do tests anymore now. People are fed up of COVID. Government is a different issue, even private testing has reduced because patients themselves are reluctant to do tests. They want to lead a normal life now. They feel that, ‘Even if I have COVID, I will live. I will stay at home, take care of myself and come out of it. I don’t need to be admitted’. Majority of patients, that is, 90 percent of people become alright without any treatment.”
Dr Deepak Baid, President, Association of Medical Consultancy 

This attitude though has an impact on the elderly and those living with co-morbidities or in high risk categories, he says. Many times, individuals are unwilling to undergo COVID tests due to the fear of being separated from their families and being admitted to a hospital.

“It so happens, even in private, when we tell a patient who is bed ridden, whose wife has COVID to get a COVID test, they are reluctant to do a test. The reason behind it is because if he tests positive, he will be shifted to a hospital. He wants to be with his family. There are a lot of socio-economical reasons, psychological reasons,” says Dr Baid.

As of 16 November, Mumbai had a total of 9,807 active COVID-19 cases. The present recovery rate in the city stands at 91 percent and the doubling rate is now 274 days.

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