Dharavi a ticking bomb after two fresh cases take positive Covid-19 cases up to 9?

Almost 3,000 people in the area have been quarantined as cases shoot up

Covid 19Image Courtesy: economictimes

Dharavi in Mumbai is emerging to be a problem area for the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) after it was found that out of the fresh 116 Covid-19 cases reported on Tuesday, two were from the densely populated urban slum.

A BMC release said that the current cases of coronavirus now stand at 642, with 40 deaths. The two fresh cases from Dharavi take the count there to nine. Two men, one 25 and the other 35, tested positive.

Dharavi, the 2.16 sq. km slum, houses almost 15 lakh people, many of them migrant and daily-wage labourers who live in small shanties making it one of the most densely populated areas on earth.

Currently, around 3,000 people from the locality have been quarantined. Speaking to Economic Times officials said that while people are scared of the virus, they are more scared of losing their jobs and being taken to quarantine centers.

People there are scared that with the rise in cases, most of them asymptomatic, coupled with the living conditions, they may already be afflicted with the virus. Vinod Shetty, director at the non-profit Acorn Foundation told Bloomberg, “We are talking about a slum where 10-12 people live in 10×10 feet in hutments. You can’t expect them to stay home all day long. They pay Rs. 25 for a gallon of water, you’ll tell them to wash their hands frequently. Eighty people share a public toilet, you’ll tell them to not leave their house. How is that possible?”

“In Dharavi, it’s very difficult to get the facts right. A lot of times residents are not telling us the truth about their travel history or where they have been out of fear. They fear they will be nabbed and punished for not following lockdown rules,” a Bloomberg report said quoting government official Kiran Dighavkar.

The first case in Dharavi was a 56-year-old man there who was feeling feverish and had a bad cough and went to see the doctor on March 23, reported Jagran Josh. It came to light that he had hosted five people from the Tablighi Jamaat. His condition worsened and he passed away on April 1.

After him, a 52-year-old BMC sanitation worker tested positive and a 35-year-old doctor working with patients there was the third case. A 48-year-old man from the Shakti Chawl in Mukund Nagar area was the fourth to test COVID-19. The fifth case was of a 30-year-old woman who tested positive from the area where the first death was reported. The sixth and seventh cases are the father and brother of the 30-year-old woman.

Social distancing in this cramped area is an impossibility. People use public toilets and there are no basic water and food facilities. Also, the hygiene conditions and garbage dumping facilities make it one of the biggest breeding grounds for the virus.

Dharavi is now a containment zone and most of the people in the area have been quarantined. The BMC is working to provide daily essentials to the residents at their doorstep. The sanitation workers are sanitizing every lane and screening clinics too have been set up in the area where everyone will be screened between 9 AM to 1 PM to check for the spread of the virus there.

Positive coronavirus cases in Maharashtra have shot up to 1078 on Wednesday. Mumbai recorded the highest increased with 44 new cases taking the tally in the city up to 686.

Seeing the jump of cases in low-income neighbourhoods like Worli Koliwada and a chawl in Prabhadevi which are now red zones that have been completely sealed off, the socio-economic conditions of Dharavi too exist like a ticking bomb that needs to be defused with apt measures as soon as possible.


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