Mumbai: Ever since members of the Advanced Locality Management (ALM) groups of H-West ward have jumped into the fray, there has been a near 23% dip in the number of active cases in the ward.
H-W ward has 487 active cases presently (as on July 5). As recently as June 27, it had 632 active cases and in one week, this number has fallen by 145.
As cases began to spike with the onset of the unlocking phase, the doubling rate decreased. With lockdown norms being relaxed, many residents began to step out of their homes and social distancing norms were flouted, leading to increased transmission.
To curtail the spread, Ward Officer Vinayak Vispute told residents that controlling the disease must become a public movement. Two weeks ago, ward officers held a video conference with ALM members, asking the latter to take the lead in the fight against the pandemic.
Following which the ALM groups began spreading awareness among the people, regarding the importance of wearing masks and being proactive about precautionary measures.
"We reached out to the local vendors and retailers, urging them to wear masks and explained to them the importance of carrying sanitisers," said Mario Fishery, ALM member, Chapel Road.
"There is a lot of misinformation being spread about the disease, so our primary agenda was to educate the residents about the norms, as most people were behaving as though the pandemic was over," Fishery said.
As soon as the state government announced its Mission Begin Again plan, the maximum number of cases began to emerge from residential buildings, including high-rises, while the number of cases in the slum areas began to drop.
"The BMC identified the high-risk zones and ALMs spread authentic and proactive information in these areas. Civic volunteers also took part in fever camps and ground-level testing, by mobilising manpower to help officials," explained Fishery.
"We are putting technology to the best use and trying to curb misinformation as much as we can," he added.
The local Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) ward office also initiated compulsory medical screening for shopkeepers and retailers. Any retailer who planned to reopen his shop had to undergo a medical test, following which the civic body would give him a medical certificate.
"Having a medical certificate was made compulsory for shopkeepers and vendors because there have been instances when the disease has spread from marketplaces and areas where there have been people gathering," said an official.
"Involving the ALMs created a lot of awareness amongst people. Residents of the ward thought that cases were only emerging from the slums. Getting them into the picture helped debunk these misconceptions," said Asif Zakaria, Congress corporator, H-W. Zakaria has been instrumental in bringing the ALMs to the fore and having them partner with the civic body.
"With the war against the virus becoming a public movement, things became easier for the civic officials as well, as they were able to conduct fast-paced contract tracing," said Zakaria.