Coronavirus RT-PCR tests at Mumbai airport: Many slip away without tests, says report

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Updated: Dec 03, 2020 11:43 AM

The testing kiosks are near the baggage collection belts, hence people unwilling to take the tests can leave without anyone to stop.

coronavirus, covid-19, Mumbai airport, covid testing at chatrapati shivaji airport, covid testing at western railways, BMC, Mumbai airports authorities limited, covid-19 rules in MumbaiThe Maharashtra government new notice says, passengers either have to furnish a negative RT-PCR report or have to take the test at the airport before entering the city. (Representtaive image. IE)

The Maharashtra government, considering the rising number of Covid -19 cases announced a new rule that domestic passengers travelling from Rajasthan, Gujarat, Goa and Delhi will have to take a compulsory Covid-19 test 72 hours before their on arrival and show at the departure point but thousands of people are slipping away without a negative report due to inadequate arrangements, reported IE.

Since the announcement was made on November 25, only 1, 565 people took the test while the rest flouted the rule and left the Chhatrapati Shivaji domestic terminal. According to the report, scant personnel positioned for the purpose are unable to ensure that everyone arriving is showing a negative RT_PCR test report.

The Mumbai railway station in comparison is testing a larger number of passengers than that of the airport. Railways test 2000-2,5000 incoming passengers every day for the mentioned four states against 250-260 daily tests at the airport. The incoming passengers through trains are also more than flights.

The Maharashtra government new notice says, passengers either have to furnish a negative RT-PCR report or have to take the test at the airport before entering the city. Railway passengers should take the test 96 hours before arrival.

The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation is vested with the responsibility of screening the railway passengers while the Mumbai International Airport Limited (MIAL)is in charge of passengers coming on the flight. MIAL, however, has asked BMC assistance in getting more civic officers bowing to their staff crunch.

According to the current operating protocols, as soon as the flight lands, passengers barring the ones carrying a negative report should be taken to the testing kiosk from a screening point near the aerobridge. But several passengers coming to Mumbai from Goa, Delhi were not stopped at any point to produce the PCR report or go for testing.

The testing kiosks are near the baggage collection belts, hence people unwilling to take the tests can leave without anyone to stop. Passengers are also unwilling to wait in a long queue that is arising due to lack of adequate manpower. A Mumbai Airport spokesperson, however, argued that their responsibility is to conduct the tests that can be scaled up to 10, 000 per day and the task for screening passengers lies with BMC.

Additional municipal commission P Velrasu, however, said that BMC only screen international passengers, the airport operator must monitor the domestic passenger. They have also been asked to take the police’s help if any passengers refuse to cooperate with them. He also raised concern about the large number of passengers coming from Delhi where many are testing positive daily and many going for a vacation to Goa making it another point of transmission of Covid infection.

The testing kiosks at the railway stations in Mumbai Central, CSMT, Bandra Terminus, Dadar, Borivali and LTT are now working with optimal strength after undergoing chaos for the first couple of days. Additional support staff has been provided by BMS who are managing passengers from the four states effectively.

Railways stations are, however, only conducting rapid antigen tests and that too for symptomatic passengers. Health staff at Dadar kiosk flagged that antigen test is conducted only after going through a temperature check, hence many asymptomatic passengers go undetected, a reason why only 20 of them tested positive in between November 25 and November 29.

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