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MUMBAI: Maharashtra has reported only 34 fresh covid-19 cases in the past 12 hours, much lower than the hundreds the state has been confirming over the past week.

Of the 34, 23 are from Pune, six from Mumbai, four from Malegaon in Nashik and one from Thane, taking the state's total to 3,236. Maharashtra is also the first state in India to have crossed the 3,000 mark in the number of positive cases.

The fall in the number of cases can be attributed to the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation's (BMC), Mumbai's civic body, decision to change its testing protocol and procedure.

On Thursday, the BMC had decided to selectively test asymptomatic high-risk people, against the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) guidelines to test all asymptomatic high-risk contacts, including family members, between the fifth and 14th day of suspected exposure.

"The swab testing to search positive patients from community is not being achieved as most of the asymptomatic people are getting tested unnecessarily resulting into negative results," said BMC.

The civic body argued that the purpose of identifying positive patients from a community is not being served through full utilisation of available testing services.

"Therefore, it is decided not to collect samples from people who don't have symptoms," BMC said, adding that asymptomatic direct and high-risk contacts of a confirmed case should be tested, after careful observation between days five and 14 of contact and needs to be quarantined for 14 days.

BMC also decided that a coronavirus death will undergo an audit before being confirmed as one. Mumbai has so far recorded 194 deaths. The state's mortality rate is at 6.05%.

A BMC official said modification in testing protocol was to enable effective utilisation of limited resources in the state.

"The percentage of positivity of testing shows 4.5% of the total tests conducted. Similarly, the rate of negative samples collected through fever clinics is less than 0.5%," the BMC said.

With a capacity of about 10,000 tests a day, Mumbai soon plans to introduce rapid testing.

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