The Maharashtra government and the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai have come in praise from the Centre for the steep decline in the number of COVID-19 cases in Asia's largest slum Dharavi. Dharavi's doubling rate of cases has improved from 18 in April to 78 in June.
The Additional Municipal Commissioner of the region, Kiran Dighavkar, credited effective screening and a proactive approach for the feat.
"Instead of waiting for people to come to us, we went to them. Timely screening and isolation have worked. In a place like Dharavi, where the density of population is one of the highest in the world, we have been able to implement lockdown and social distancing," Dighavkar said.
"Several states have implemented these containment strategies and produced effective outcomes. The efforts of the Maharashtra government and Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) have shown encouraging results. As part of these efforts, they have actively ‘chased the virus’ and aggressively conducted targeted tracing of COVID-19 suspects."
"Being densely populated (2,27,136 persons/ sq. km), Dharavi had 491 cases in April 2020 with a 12% growth rate and a case doubling period of 18 days. The proactive measures adopted by BMC reduced the COVID-19 growth rate to 4.3% in May 2020 and further to 1.02% in June. These measures also ensured an improved case doubling time to 43 days in May 2020 and 78 days in June 2020," a note issued by the Centre said.
Talking of the several challenges faced by the municipal corporation there, the Centre noted that 80 per cent population used community toilets.
"About 8-10 people live in households/hutment which measures about 10ft x 10ft coupled with existence of narrow lanes with 2-3 storied houses where often the ground floor is a house and other floors are used as factories. Hence, there were severe limitations of physical distancing with no possibility of effective ‘Home Quarantine’," the note further said.
Lauding the government's approach of tracing, tracking, testing and treating, the Centre noted that over 4.75 lakh people were screened by the municipal body.
"To tackle the issue of manpower to carry out proactive screening in high risk zones, BMC forged strategic public private partnerships in containment measures and all available ‘private’ practitioners were mobilised. BMC provided the private doctors with PPE Kits, thermal scanners, pulse oxymeters, masks and gloves and started door-to-door screening in high risk zones and all suspects were identified. BMC encouraged all practitioners to open their clinics to attend to the patients and communicate to BMC in case any COVID1-9 suspects were found. BMC sanitised the clinics of the private practitioners and provided them all necessary support. To augment health infrastructure in the city, all private hospitals were brought onboard and acquired for treatment," read the note.