Mumbai News

Covid-19: Mumbai moves high-risk cases from slums to lodges, schools – Livemint

Taufiq Siddiqui, 38, a resident of Mumbai’s Dharavi slum, maintains a list of grocery items on his phone. But when he steps out to shop, he buys only one item at a time, Siddiqui confessed. This he says gives him an excuse to step out of his shanty and breathe freely. Siddiqui’s and his brother’s family share their 220 sq. ft home near Dharavi’s Jama Masjid. With 12 members in the family, he says finding a place even to sit has become tough because of the lockdown.

Considering that home quarantine is not a viable option for Mumbai’s slum dwellers like Siddiqui, the state government is hiring rooms from local lodge owners and turning sports complexes and schools into covid-19 care facilities. So far, around 1,300 high-risk individuals have been sent to these facilities. “We have rented 42,000 lodge rooms across Mumbai especially for this purpose and are housing them either in these rooms or large halls, away from the community,” said Suresh Kakani, additional municipal commissioner(health), Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC).

But, the state’s resources are limited. Among Mumbai’s many slums, Dharavi, which houses nearly 850,000 people within less than a square mile, reported its first case on 1 April. In 28 days, the cases have risen to 330, with 18 deaths.

For the state government, containing the spread of coronavirus in the slums is proving to be a tough task. “Now the issue is only with slums where the number of positive cases are increasing rapidly,” Maharashtra health minister Rajesh Tope said, adding that the state is ensuring all containment zones are completely cordoned off; but despite that, cases have been rising. With 422new cases reported on Monday, Maharashtra’s tally of covid-19 positive cases has reached 8,590, the highest in the country.

“We are trying to contain the coronavirus spread with door-to-door testing in affected clusters. We are tracing and secluding as many contacts as quickly as possible,” said Kakani.“We are no longer allowing home quarantine for slum dwellers and are putting all high-risk covid-19 contacts into institutional quarantine facilities.

Many other such slums, including Govandi, Byculla and Kurla, have also become coronavirus hotspots.

Besides small lodges, BMC has also turned some municipal schools and sports complexes near the affected slums into covid-19 quarantine facilities. For Dharavi, the municipal body has created a 600-bed facility at a government school, while another 300-bed capacity was created at the Rajiv Gandhi District Sports Complex. “As of now, we have a total capacity of 2,300 beds reserved for high-risk contacts in Dharavi. We will be increasing it to 3,000 beds in a few days; another 700-bed facility is being created at Manohar Joshi College in Dharavi,” said Kiran Dighavkar, assistant municipal commissioner, G-North ward, Mumbai, where Dharavi is located. Till date, the government has identified 49 containment zones .