After the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s (BMC) change in approach, the number of containment zones in the city has reduced to 692, from the earlier more than 2,800.
Among the first few changes in standard operating procedure made by municipal commissioner IS Chahal, when he took charge on Friday last week, was creation of watertight containment pockets. Earlier, if a Covid-19 positive case was found in a building, BMC tagged the building as a containment zone and sealed it. As part of its new approach, the civic body has now removed standalone buildings and chawls from the list of containment zones, dividing the 2,800+ zones into two – containment zones and sealed buildings. There are now 1,271 sealed buildings in Mumbai within the 692 containment zones.
Chahal had said on Wednesday, “I am now rationalising the number of containment zones. A population of 5,000 to 6,000 is ideal for one containment zone. However, in Mumbai, every building is one containment zone. Of the 2,800 containment zones in the city, 1,153 are standalone buildings, with a single Covid-19 case.”
Chahal said he realised manning so many “so-called containment zones” was a waste of police manpower. “The number 2,800 rises rapidly everyday and scares people. They think yet another big area has been engulfed by Covid-19.”
BMC has now used natural boundaries such as roads, nullahs, chowks to seal the zones. Zones can be made of a few buildings with cases, a square or an area that is easy to lock in. While these zones will be manned by the police, the sealed buildings will have to carry out “self-management.”
The cooperative managing bodies of these buildings will have to ensure nobody enters or exits the building and BMC will be responsible for sanitising the building, taking co-morbid people from the building to quarantine centres for observation, if necessary. For the larger containment zone, BMC and Covid warriors appointed from among elected representatives such as corporators and MLAs will be responsible for operating the zone, such as distributing food packets and handling fever clinics.
After analysing the containment zones, sealed buildings and the cases, it was seen that the number of cases in a ward is no longer directly proportional to the number of containment zones.
Explaining the implication, a senior civic officer said, “If one building has a newly discovered Covid-19 case, but is already in or adjoining an existing containment zone, it will be added to this zone, and will be sealed. We are no longer creating a new containment zone for every building. A ward may have an overall high number of cases, but can have few containment zones if the cases are concentrated in one area that can be locked in.”
For example, going by the data for cases as of May 12 and containment zones as of May 14, the E ward (Byculla) with 1,347 Covid-19 cases has 19 containment zones and 112 sealed buildings, as opposed to the C ward (Marine Lines) with 134 Covid-19 cases, which has 27 containment zones and 18 sealed buildings. Five wards in the city have cases shooting above 1,000. The F-North ward (Wadala and Sewri) with 1,205 cases has 22 containment zones and 90 sealed buildings.
The G-North ward, which houses Dharavi, has 1,382 cases and 11 containment zones, with 7 sealed buildings. The G-South ward (Worli and Prabhadevi) with 1,171 cases has 14 containment zones and 41 sealed buildings. The K-West ward (Andheri) with 1,073 cases has 13 containment zones and 91 sealed buildings.
However, the P-North ward (Malad) with only 287 cases has 28 containment zones and 41 sealed buildings.