A senior state official did not mince words while saying that this could be the key reason why cases in Mumbai have “stabilised” and its share fallen from Maharashtra’s overall burden. Mumbai contributed to 59% of the state’s total cases as of Mayend, which went down to 44% in June. Officials say that while Mumbai’s testing has remained stagnant, other cities, especially in the MMR region, have majorly increased testing and so are reporting a higher number of cases.
“Initially, testing facilities were concentrated in Mumbai and in Pune. But now the state has added testing facilities in most districts,” said a senior official. For instance, Vasai-Virar corporation performs 1,200-1,400 tests a day, which was 300-400 till a few weeks ago, while Kalyan-Dombivli does 700-1,000 tests per day. Even cities like Aurangabad, Dhule and Kolhapur are doing more tests.
“The increase in testing is also reflecting in the higher positivity rates in these cities. Mumbai continues to have a stagnant positivity rate of 25%,” said another senior official. The opposition, led by former CM Devendra Fadnavis, has alleged that the state was testing less and only about 50% of the testing capacity was being put to use to keep case numbers low. He has also raised the issue of low testing in Mumbai. Nevertheless, Maharashtra’s testing rate of 7,715 per million people is higher than the national average of 6,334.
“Mumbai, by now, should have escalated to 25,000-30,000 tests per day, but has instead kept it to under 5,000 samples,” said a senior official from the public health department. BMC additional municipal commissioner Suresh Kakani said that as testing capacity was built over months, the volume of samples processed gradually increased. “And now with the antigen kits, we plan to increase daily testing by a minimum of 2,000,” he said.