India

In Mumbai's Dharavi, Coronavirus Cases Rise To 13, Two Patients Dead

In Mumbai's Dharavi, Coronavirus Cases Rise To 13, Two Patients Dead

Mumbai's Dharavi is Asia's largest slum, where a million people live in a 5 sq km.

Mumbai:

The number of coronavirus cases in Mumbai's Dharavi - the largest slum in Asia -- has touched 13, with six new cases in 24 hours.  Among the new patients is a 50-year-old woman, who worked as the cleaning staff at a hospital. Another, a 25-year-old man, is the son of a patient  who proved positive. The third - a 35-year-old -- also came in contact with a patient from a pocket of the slum.

By the evening, a couple was also found positive and one patient died, taking the number of deaths to two.

Civic officials said so far, nine containment zones have been put in place in Dharavi and as cases come up, more such zones are being identified.

Containment zones are spots -- a building or a slum pocket - which has to be sealed and sanitized. People are not allowed out of doors and are provided essentials at their doorstep. Police officials guard the area to prevent people from going out.

The officials said health camps are set up once a positive case is identified and immediately the residents of the building their neighbours are tested.

All those with symptoms are then transferred to a 300-bed quarantined facility at the nearby Rajiv Gandhi sports complex. Asymptomatic people who were in contact with the patients are transferred to Sai Hospital for quarantine.

But contact tracing is proving a challenge for the officials of the Brihanmumbai Corporation.

"They have social stigma about government officers and don't reveal their information easily. This is a big challenge," said Kiran Dighavkar, an official belonging to the north ward.

"So far, cases that have come up have no direct travel history but have third or fourth contact, which is worrisome. It is, however, too early to comment whether it is community transmission or not," he added. 

The government says there is no need to seal the area, which has a million people living in 5 sq km and five to six people share a single room. There are only 180 community toilets used by over 7 lakh people.

While addressing the press recently, Maharashtra health minister Rajesh Tope said, "No need to shut down Dharavi completely".

With the number of cases rising in the slum pockets, Dharavi has started to give the authorities a nightmare. Officials say while the lockdown is in place, the virus is under control. But they fear what might happen once the lockdown is lifted.