Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (File Photo)
MUMBAI: In yet another change in testing protocol, BMC decided to revert to its old strategy of testing all high-risk contacts of positive patients irrespective of symptoms between 5-10 days of quarantine. A civic official said high-risk contacts under home quarantine would not even need a doctor’s prescription and can get tested by providing a self-declaration.
Previously, in a major deviation from Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) protocol, BMC had decided that high-risk contacts would be tested only if they developed symptoms. BMC had on May 12 issued comprehensive guidelines on testing, where it stated that “all symptomatic contacts of confirmed cases” should be tested, which ruled out testing for those without symptoms. But the decision caused anxiety among relatives and close contacts of positive patients as they could not get tested through the home quarantine period.
Additional municipal commissioner Suresh Kakani confirmed that testing guidelines were revised and a circular would be issued shortly. “Previously, high-risk contacts were not tested if they did not develop symptoms. We are changing that now and going for aggressive testing of contacts. We are focussing on high-risk contacts who are under home quarantine. We relaxed norms. They will not need a doctor’s prescription to get tested. They can provide a self-declaration letter to labs and get the test done,” he added.
BMC estimates that nearly 10,000 people could be under home quarantine and eligible for testing under the new norms. Kakani added that home testing will continue to be unavailable.
A doctor welcomed the move, saying it was a huge “blunder” by BMC to not test high-risk contacts and keep them guessing. “We had many frantic calls from patients, including those in institutional quarantine, that they were not tested. It adds to one’s anxiety,” the senior physician said.
Another expert added that even ICMR, in its multiple revisions of testing guidelines, has remained consistent with testing of direct and high-risk contacts of a confirmed case and said the asymptomatic contacts should be tested once between day 5 and 10.