BMC Health workers thermal screening at Navrang Society, Dharavi.
BMC Health workers thermal screening at Navrang Society, Dharavi.

World Health Organisation (WHO) director Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus late Friday hailed the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) for controlling the number of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) cases in Dharavi.

Addressing his staff and the rest of the world through a video conference, Dr Tredos said countries like Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, New Zealand, Italy, Spain, and even in Dharavi - a densely packed area in Mumbai - focused on community engagement and the basics of testing, isolation and treating all those that are sick. “This is the key to breaking the chains of transmission & suppressing the virus," he said.

Dr Tredos used these places as examples from across the world that have shown that “even if the COVID19 outbreak is very intense, it can still be brought back under control."

His full speech can be read here.

The BMC is of course delighted at the acknowledgment from the WHO. "WHO itself has now praised the efforts by BMC in Dharavi. Dr Tedros himself has mentioned this is unique case across the World. We are replicating the pattern across the city. "Chase the virus" campaign will continue until we chase it out of Mumbai and completely," Iqbal Singh Chahal, BMC commissioner told the Free Press Journal.

"The WHO acknowledgement comes as an encouragement to BMC frontline workers who have been working day and night to ensure the spread is contained risking their own lives. Mission Dharavi has become an example of not just for India but for congested regions across the globe," said a senior BMC official.

Member of Parliament from Mumbai South Constituency Rahul Shewale said: "WHO's acknowledgment of Dharavi Pattern of fighting coronavirus spread is an honour for the collective efforts and struggle of the state government, BMC, public representative and all the frontline workers, not to forget the people of Dharavi."

Incidentally, the number of coronavirus positive patients in Dharavi, the biggest slum in Mumbai, increased to 2,359 on Friday with the addition of 12 cases, a Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) official said.

Dharavi currently has 166 active cases and 1,952 patients have been discharged from hospitals following recovery so far, the official said.

After the first COVID-19 case that was reported from Dr Baliga Nagar on April 1, Dharavi soon became a cause of global concern— with nearly a million people living with poor sanitation in a 2.5-kilometre area. Maintaining physical distancing was impossible.

A slew of steps taken by the BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) with maximum testing and maximum isolation of COVID-19 positive patients and their high-risk contacts under 'Mission Dharavi' helped Dharavi, known as Asia's largest slum to contain the spread of the infectious disease to a large extent.

As on July 2, the count of COVID-19 cases in G (north) ward that constitutes Dharavi, Dadar and Mahim stands at 4,967, of which only 1,412 cases are currently active, and 3,185 have already been cured and discharged. Of the 4,967 cases, 2,301 cases were recorded from Dharavi alone.

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Free Press Journal