Mumbai: Dharavi, the Mumbai slum that is globally renowned, is now beginning to give civic authorities a nightmare of their lives. Six new cases of CoVID-19 including a death reported in a day from the densely populated slums in the area have set the civic body on a high alert.
The overall number of cases in Dharavi has risen to 13 on Wednesday, including two deaths. The rise has made matters touch and go for the state authorities already racing against time to control a surge of infection across the city. As per the Health Ministry data, Maharashtra has been one of India's major hot zones with more than a tenth of the country's total novel coronavirus cases. The state also currently accounts for almost half of the deaths.
And within the bustling capital city of the state, Dharavi is easily the biggest ticking time bomb. Almost 15 lakh people, many of whom are migrant labourers, live there in small shanties like sardines in a tin.
As of now, about 3,450 residents of Dharavi have been quarantined. There are reports that not many people are readily cooperating with the authorities. Officials admit that people are scared of the virus, but they are more scared of losing their jobs and being taken away to quarantine centres. "In Dharavi, it’s very difficult to get the facts right. On many occasions, we come across residents who are not telling us the truth about their travel history or where they have been out of fear. They fear they will be nabbed and punished for not following lockdown rules," Kiran Dighavkar assistant municipal Commissioner of G (South) ward told the Free Press Journal.
Dighavkar said, with just 13 cases, we cannot say whether it is community transmission. We are working out to trace their contacts.
That is what makes the case of Dharavi, one of Asia's largest slums, absolutely crucial in the fight against the rapidly spreading virus. However, even BMC officials and state government have been stating that Mumbai has still not reached the community transmission stage. Dr Randeep Guleria, director of AIIMS, New Delhi, two days ago said the novel coronavirus outbreak in India has reached the community transmission stage or Stage 3 in some parts of the country.
Expressing concerns over the worrying situation in India arising due to coronavirus, Dr Guleria said, "Cases have sharply increased at some places and localised community spread has also been noticed in some areas, such as Mumbai. We are in between Stage 2 and 3."
The six new positive cases in Dharavi, on Wednesday, included a 25-year-old male resident of Mukund Nagar slum, a 35-year-old man from Dhanwada Chawl, a 50-year-old women, a staff of KEM hospital from Muslim Nagar, and a 59-year-old man and a 49-year-old female from Janata Society in Dharavi Cross Road. Apart from this, a death was reported where a 69-year-old resident of Social Nagar was declared dead at KEM hospital on Wednesday. The total number of confirmed patients from Dharavi now stands at 13 with two deaths.
The civic body has set up a clinic at the containment zone in Baliga Nagar, where all the 2,500 residents, including 132 senior citizens and 32 residents with respiratory ailments as well as cough, cold and fever, will give their swab tests. BMC, since last Saturday, had set up 10 clinics in the city for swab tests.