New COVID-19 testing lab at KEM

Facility will be ready by next week; BMC forms 667 teams to spread awareness

March 15, 2020 01:36 am | Updated 01:36 am IST - Mumbai

Mumbai 14/03/2020: Health Officer Dr Daksha Shah speaks to the media during the press conference about the Corona virus crisis at BMC Headquarters on Saturday. Photo: Emmanual Yogini

Mumbai 14/03/2020: Health Officer Dr Daksha Shah speaks to the media during the press conference about the Corona virus crisis at BMC Headquarters on Saturday. Photo: Emmanual Yogini

Mumbai is all set to have a new laboratory to test the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). Civic health officials on Saturday said the new testing facility will be ready at KEM Hospital in Parel by next week.

Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s (BMC) health officer Dr. Daksha Shah said besides opening the new laboratory, the working hours of the existing facility at Kasturba Hospital will be increased. “The new lab at KEM will be opened at the earliest. We are waiting for some tests to be carried out on the premises,” she said.

Aggressive drive

According to Dr. Shah, the civic body has also aggressively started spreading awareness of the disease to curb its spread. Medical field officers of all 24 wards in Mumbai have been divided into 667 teams and are conducting awareness drives and distributing posters in as many as 2,912 housing societies. She said, “These teams approach the houses and ensure that any person showing symptoms or having travel history to the affected countries is home quarantined for at least 14 days. The teams started their work on Saturday and have so far covered 35,000 houses.”

Dr. Shah said not everyone needs to get tested at Kasturba Hospital. She said, “If one has a foreign travel history and experiences symptoms, only then you need to be tested. Otherwise, self-quarantine is suggested. A quarantine facility of 300 beds has started at Seven Hills Hospital in Andheri and three medical teams of two medical officers and two health workers have been made available in three shifts.” She said these teams will report cases with symptoms and one ambulance has been deployed to transfer symptomatic travellers.

Dr. Shah also said the use of masks and sanitisers is not necessary. “We should adopt habits such as covering our mouths with handkerchiefs or tissues and washing our hands with soap and water. Schools also should not force students to carry masks and sanitisers. This will be a good opportunity to inculcate good hygiene etiquette in children,” she said.

Dr. Shah also requested the public to not panic over COVID-19. She said, “Do not circulate or forward photos and identities of any patients on social media.”

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