As corona cases surge, BMC seals 2,460 buildings in South Mumbai

Mumbai: The crème de la crème of South Mumbai’s posh pads are a troubled lot, especially in these tough times. As coronavirus cases surge, the BMC has sealed around 2,460 buildings in South Mumbai. Nearly 355 buildings in the SoBo’s posh areas – Napean Sea Road, Malabar Hills, Walkeshwar, Marine Drive and Grant Road have recorded a steep spike in Covid-19 cases in the last two months.

“After the unlocking in September, BMC war rooms are recording a 5-10 per cent increase of sealed buildings every week in south Mumbai ward,” said a BMC official. Locals residents and public representatives have attributed this virus surge to their domestic help – housekeepers, maids, cooks, drivers resuming duty and testing positive. Many domestic helps work in multiple houses. “More than 30 people were found positive in the past two weeks – mainly house-helps, drivers, laundry cleaners in many south Mumbai buildings,” said a civic health official.

The BMC is sealing a building that has multiple cases in more than one floor. Many SoBo buildings didn't allow domestic help and drivers till September. “The BMC has the authority to seal the buildings, but it’s the call of the society office bearers to allow domestic help and drivers or not,” said a BMC official.

Minal Patel, BJP corporator, Grant Road blamed the BMC for not having any clear policy on sealing a building. “In the past three months, BMC has changed the rule of sealing buildings thrice. Residents are confused about the SOPs,” Patel said.

As cases soar, many residents have started to impose voluntary lockdown in their buildings. “There are five buildings in our society. We have started following voluntary lockdowns. Only those who have to go out for occupational purposes are allowed to go. No domestic help or driver is allowed inside,” said Darsheel Amiri, a Walkeshwar resident.

Harshita Narwekar, BJP corporator, Cuffe Parade said office bearers of residential complexes are doing a background check of the domestic helps. “Buildings in Cuffe Parade aren't allowing domestic staffers who live in containment zones or have worked in a building which has been sealed recently,” Narwekar said.

"A majority of the buildings in Marine Drive have full-time domestic workers. These workers stay inside the building and are not allowed to go out daily," said Ashok Gupta, vice-president Marine Drive Citizen's Association.

"Our building on Marine Drive had been unaffected from cases for a long time so we started allowing helps. Last week two househelps tested positive. We have now locked the building for 14 days," said a resident.

Manoj Surya, secretary of a citizen's association in Bhuleshwar said residents have been told to discontinue service of domestic helps working in multiple households.

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