Coronavirus outbreak: Corporate firms in Containment Zones must test employees

Updated: Jun 27, 2020, 07:12 IST | Prajakta Kasale | Mumbai

With ICMR allowing rapid antigen testing that does not involve using machines, companies told not to rely on the civic body alone

A BMC camp to test residents at IC Colony, Borivli. Pic/Satej Shinde
A BMC camp to test residents at IC Colony, Borivli. Pic/Satej Shinde

Corporate companies and industries located in Containment Zones will have to do antigen tests for their employees without relying on the civic body.

The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has asked private hospitals and labs to get permissions to do the tests. Meantime, BMC will start testing its health workers, citizens aged above 70 years and residents of Containment Zones.

It will start the antigen testing in the city after getting approval from the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR). In a shift in position, the BMC, which once had several stringent criteria for testing is now asking corporates and industries to test all employees.

The ICMR has allowed rapid antigen testing which does not require any specialised machine. It can show results within 30 minutes. While it is less accurate – a positive result shows a confirmed case, but negative test results need further testing for confirmation, the antigen testing is a promising tool for quick diagnosis of the COVID-19 infection. The BMC has already placed the order for antigen test kits. These kits will be distributed to four hospitals – Kasturba, KEM, Sion and Cooper. As per the guidelines of ICMR, the test will be useful for the vulnerable population including healthcare workers, immunocompromised individuals, and individuals in CZs.

"The BMC will start testing for frontline health workers, high-risk contacts in quarantine facilities and people in CZs," said Suresh Kakani, additional municipal commissioner. Senior citizens in CZs will also be tested on priority.

With regards to testing of corporate and industrial workers, Kakani said, "There is no need for a prescription for employees who are working in corporate offices or industries that fall in CZs or hotspots. The companies must do antigen testing of their employees through authorised private labs. They can't be solely depending on BMC." The policy on industries outside CZs has not been cleared yet.

There are 25 private labs doing RT-PCR test for detection of COVID-19.

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