Civic officials are currently on their toes, grappling with the rising number of coronavirus cases in Mumbai every day. Assistant Municipal Commissioner of D ward and Markets Prashant Gaikwad has appealed to citizens not to panic and maintain social distancing, as this is the only way to control the spread of the virus.
He plans to use the recreation clubs and gymkhanas in his ward (which also houses Antlia, the residence of the Ambani’s) as quarantine facilities if need be, to tackle this alarming situation. He took time off his busy schedule to speak with The Free Press Journal's Sweety Adimulam
How many cases have been reported in your ward till date? How are you handling the situation?
Till date (April 7, 7pm) a total of 49 cases have been reported in my ward. However, the situation is under control, as these cases are scattered and not clusters.
Some cases have been reported from Malabar Hill, Nana Chowk and Tardeo. In terms of handling the situation, we are asking citizens repeatedly to maintain social distancing and stay home.
What arrangements have been made for residents of chawls and slums?
We have arranged institutional quarantine facilities in some hotels and lodges for patients from chawls and slums where there are common toilets.
They cannot be home quarantined as it will worsen the situation. Moreover, in D ward, though slum pockets are rare, there are places like Charni Road East and West, Grant Road, where there are lots of chawls.
How many rooms are available for quarantine in your ward?
We have made arrangements for 80 rooms in various hotels and lodges, of which, 25 are already occupied. If the need arises, we will use the several recreation clubs and gymkhanas, which are currently deserted. But this will be our last option.
Tell us about the medical arrangements in place.
We are planning to take over a few private hospitals to meet the medical demand. Also, Saifee Hospital has been opened after staffers suspected of having been infected tested negative. The hospital is providing 50 isolation beds for Covid-19 patients as per the guidelines of the state government.
Despite advising citizens to avoid crowding, they are thronging markets...
Across Mumbai, there are 69 markets in all, and since I am in charge of the markets department, as a preventive measure, I have deployed one staffer in every market for vigilance.
If a crowd is observed, immediate action is taken.
People living in containment zones are worried about the supply of essentials. In your ward, there are 11 such areas.
Yes, this concern was raised. To resolve the issue, meetings were held with gas agencies, vegetable vendors and suppliers of other essential commodities and it was decided that residents living in such high-risk zones must now pick up essentials at their building gates.
What other arrangements are in place to keep a watch on these zones?
In each containment zone, a team has been stationed to check on those trying to venture out. In the daytime, a team comprising an engineer, or an inspector is available, along with a maintenance labourer and a constable is deployed in each zone.
With minimum staff strength during this total lockdown, how you are dealing with requirements? Are adequate safety measures being followed?
Yes, we are following all safety measures, like frequently using hand sanitisers, wearing masks. Lodging arrangements for some doctors have been made in hotels, while some staff are being asked to report for work on alternate days.