Migrant household help returning from their hometowns across the country and resuming work is being cited as one of the main reasons for the rising number of Covid cases in the plush high-rises of South Mumbai like Malabar Hill, Napean Sea Rd and Kemps Corner, according to a civic official in the D ward.
The official informed that domestic staff who went back home during the lockdown are gradually returning to their jobs in these high-rises. "Despite houseowners providing them with private transport, many have tested positive and family members coming in contact with them have correspondingly tested positive too. So we are advising all houseowners to quarantine their domestic help before letting them resume their jobs, as a precautionary measure," he said.
According to the records of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation D-ward, from September 10 to September 28, 289 migrant helpers, including maids and drivers employed in these luxury towers who rejoined duty, have tested positive.
Many of them have been lodged in civic quarantine centres also, said the official.
Bina Bhatia, activist and immigration counsellor and also a resident of Malabar Hill, confirmed the development. "Yes, it is true. The migrant domestic workers are one of the reasons for the rise in number of Covid cases in many towers here. But they cannot be squarely blamed. Rather, the owners should make provisions for their staff to quarantine themselves before asking them to resume work. Also, they should waste no time in getting their helpers tested for Covid.
Domestic workers use the common areas of the building like the lift and the lobby, therefore utmost care should be taken to constantly sanitise these areas. For instance, when one of my friends had their staff quarantine in a nearby office on return. As a result, the rest of the family was protected from infection. All houseowners with domestic help should be similarly careful."
As per the September 28 Covid report of the BMC, there are 9,060 cases in D ward, with a doubling rate of 52 days and the average growth rate of new cases is 1.35 per cent, the third highest in the 24 civic wards of Mumbai.