Positive Covid-19 case in Chennai slum poses difficulty for Chennai authorities

The area has been declared a containment zone and is said to have 1,500 residents

SlumImage Courtesy:deccanchronicle.com

Just like Maharashtra’s Dharavi or Worli Koliwada, now Chennai is facing a daunting task of containment after a sanitation worker has found to be Covid-19 positive in Thattankulam, one of the largest slums in the city with over 1,500 residents, reported Deccan Chronicle.

Containment zones or containment hotspots have been set up by the Greater Chennai Corporation across the city to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The zones are demarcated based on the identification of a positive case in a certain spot. If a person tests positive for COVID-19, the streets adjoining their place of residence is deemed a containment zone or containment hotspot. The area under that is divided into blocks of 100+ houses each.

The 37-year-old lady, who is currently admitted at the Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital told DC that the hospital authorities phoned her on Tuesday night and apprised her of the results.

Her husband and children have also been sent to quarantine at the hospital.

The lady said that she was working as a sanitation worker at Egmore Railway Station and her samples were sent for testing a couple of days ago, after her supervisor tested positive for Covid-19.

She said, “I am so scared. But hospital authorities give me timely treatment. I have been accommodated with another lady who is also corona positive.”

Reported to be the first positive case from the congested slum, the news has sparked panic among other residents that the infection could spread rapidly, especially because it is difficult to ensure social distancing in such areas.

Local residents say fear has already made home in their hearts as at least 90 percent of residents don’t have private toilets. One seat of a public toilet is used by 70-80 slum dwellers daily.

Y Manikandan (38), a sanitation worker who stays in a single room house with his wife and four daughters at Street 13 of KM Garden, said people were very scared about the virus.

He said, “Since the news of positive case spread, many of my neighbours are very nervous and staying indoors. They choose to get out of their homes only to use public toilets. All of them say that it is very difficult to escape the infection in such congested slums.”

He adds, “Many people do not have food at home. There are 1,500 residents and 15 streets here apart from 500 residents in Thattankulam. People are desperate as the distribution of ration is irregular. So in search of provisions and food handouts, people are being forced to stay outside their homes for a long time. At places like ration shops people are still gathering in big numbers.  So we are very afraid of a fast spread of the virus.”

The news comes at a time when there continues to be a spike in cases with the current number of cases at 373. There are a total of 112 containment zones declared across the city with 84 streets listed under all zones.

Dr. TG Srinivasan, health education officer, Greater Chennai Corporation said, “We are doing everything we can to make sure it does not explode and that there is no community spread, but it is a big challenge to contain this (virus spread). We are conducting awareness programmes across length and breadth of the city.”  

According to data from the Chennai Corporation, as on April 16th, there were a total of 1,056,738 houses and 2,019,211 households under the containment zones across the city. Close to 12,000 officials have been appointed to carry out the task of monitoring and tracking people with Covid-19 on a daily basis in almost all homes under the containment zone, reported Citizen Matters.


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