Mumbai News

Middle class areas in Mumbai doing relatively fine amid Covid-19 – Times of India

Additional municipal commissioner Suresh Kakani tells Sumitra Deb Roy and Bhavika Jain that the situation in Mumbai is under control and people must follow social distancing. Excerpts from the interview:
Mumbai has recorded most cases in Maharashtra. Is the situation under control?
Mumbai may have reported 190 cases, but the situation is not out of control. In fact, our numbers indicate that the trend may be stabilizing somewhat. There has not been a day yet when we have crossed 50 cases, and that’s good news. But we still can’t think the curve has flattened or drop our guard now.
Unlike a week ago, when most of our positive cases were travellers, now a big chunk are contacts. What does that mean for the city?
Research shows that 7-8 days since the day air travel is suspended is when most cases begin to get detected. For us, that period ends in a few days. That could also be a reason why most cases coming now are those of contacts.
What does testing data reflect? Is BMC testing enough?
From testing 150 samples in one laboratory at Kasturba Hospital, we are carrying out nearly 1,200 tests from multiple labs.
The big point to consider here is that our rate of positivity has not changed drastically. The percentage of positives we saw with 200 samples has not changed a lot now that we are checking six times that number.
BMC has contained 146 areas in the city. What are the challenges in restricting movement of such a large population?
Looking at the number of positive cases, we had to chalk out 146 containment areas where movement of people would be limited. In Mumbai, we are facing challenges in affluent and congested pockets. The rich have travelled, and the poor have been exposed by working in some well-to-do pockets. Middle class areas are doing relatively fine.
There have been protests at many public hospitals, with nurses and staff demanding personal protective equipment (PPE)? Why do caregivers have to protest for PPE?
We have adequate PPE for the city. We require an average of 3,500 in 10 days. But, with more hospital staff demanding PPE, we have instructed that only those who work in isolation wards will be given PPE. We have estimated a requirement of 1 lakh PPE by April-end. An order for 35,000 PPE has been placed with a manufacturer in Tamil Nadu. We expect delivery in 3-4 days.
Many states have announced incentives for workers containing coronavirus. Is BMC planning something similar?
We will announce incentives for all staff working in this time of crisis. This is our way of appreciating their services.
We plan to give them an advance increment, contractual staff will be given one month’s salary extra, and a daily conveyance of Rs300 for those who live far but are taking extra effort, such as walking long distances to get to a bus-stop.
Ensuring that people adhere to home quarantine norms has been a challenge. How is BMC tackling it?
We have had over 5,000 people in home quarantine. Of these, around 2,000 have completed their 14-day duration. There were challenges in tracing these people. Apart from medical teams, we had police teams visiting the houses. We even used technology to track them.
Using GPS we found a person going out of the house while under home quarantine.
We are filing an FIR against the person soon.

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