Mumbaikars will be subjected to a slew of COVID-19 rapid antigen tests conducted at random at crowded spaces across the city such as malls, tourist places, markets, MSRTC bus stops, restaurants, and railway stations to control the number of increasing COVID-19 cases within the city.
A circular issued by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) on March 19 states that if subjected to a test at random at malls, the citizens will bear the cost of the test. Tests conducted at any other place, the costs will be borne by the BMC.
This step comes after Mumbai has been reporting more than two thousand cases in the last seven days. On March 19, Mumbai reported 3063 new cases.
The municipal workers will not seek the consent of the person who they choose for the Rapid Antigen Test (RAT). People will just be informed and if they refuse to comply, the workers can initiate action against the person under the Epidemic Act, 1897.
Rapid Antigen Tests are the COVID-19 tests which give faster results but are also known to give a higher number of false negatives.
Where Can You Be Randomly Tested?
BMC has issued a list of 27 malls across the city, 7 railway stations which are stops for trains plying out side the Mumbai Railway Network, and 4 Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC) bus-stops (Mumbai Central, Borivali, Parel, Kurla) where a daily target of tests will have to be achieved.
Each of the 24 wards under the purview of the BMC, have a daily target of tests that they have to meet. At each of the 27 malls, the ward officials will conduct around 400 tests daily.
The seven railway stations as well as the four MSRTC bus stops will see close to 1000 tests performed at random at each of them.
The ward officers will also identify crowded spaces with their boundaries to conduct close to 1000 tests at random. These crowded areas include restaurants (where both staff as well as guests can be tested), food streets, hawkers, market places, tourist places, government offices, beaches, etc.
The city aims to ramp up its testing strategy by conducting close to 47,800 RAT tests daily. According to the Centre, Maharashtra is seeing its second wave of cases.
While these are measures to curb the burgeoning cases within the city as well as the state, Maharashtra education minister, Varsha Gaikwad, announced that the state board exams for students of class 10 and class 12 will be conducted in the offline mode. Exams for class 10 will be held between April 29 to May 20, 2021 and for class 12 will be held between April 23 to May 21, 2021.