Mumbai: Even as civic authorities are frenetically chalking out plans to shift a maximum number of those residing in Dharavi to institutional isolation centres, the number of COVID-19 cases in Asia's largest slum crossed the 1,000 mark on Wednesday.
With 66 new cases being reported, the tally in Dharavi has jumped to 1028, according to Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) data. With nine previous death incidents confirmed as COVID-19 fatalities, the death toll in the area too has spiked to 40.
No fatality has been reported in Dharavi in the last 24 hours. The latest cases were reported from Matunga Labour camp, Kumbharwada, Transit Camp, Cross Road, Naik Nagar, and some other localities in Dharavi.
On Tuesday, Asia's largest slum had registered 46 new COVID-19 cases and one death, taking the case count to 962 and the number of fatalities to 31, said Assistant Municipal Commissioner of G (North) ward Kiran Dighavkar.
"We are working out all possible ways to contain the spread. Things are working out and results will be visible soon. However, it will take time as the spread is huge owing to the density in the area and impossible physical distancing," said Dighavkar.
Education Minister Varsha Gaikwad, who represents the Dharavi constituency, has recently written to the Chief Minister, pointing out that there is a need for a special plan to contain the spread of COVID-19 in Dharavi, which has become the main infection hotspot in the city.
In her letter, Gaikwad has suggested reducing the number of people staying in Dharavi, which according to her will improve the crisis management in the area. "Dharavi is a unique case. The slum spread over 535 acres has over one lakh huts with a population of 15 to 16 lakh.
Maintaining physical distancing is a great task as 80% houses are less than 100 square feet. The other problem is the common toilets. Only if the number of people in the area is reduced, by means of institutional isolation, it will work out,” Gaikwad wrote in her letter to the CM.
Tweaking its strategy to reach out to a greater number of those who have flu or COVID-like symptoms, as the number of cases swells across Dharavi, BMC's G (North) ward had turned its seven quarantine centres into mini hospitals last week, where health check-ups can be carried out, too.
Apart from door-to-door screenings, G (North) ward has been sending dedicated vehicles in each of the localities in Dharavi to make public announcements about free check-ups to be conducted at these seven quarantine centres.