BMC Municipal worker fumigation at slum area to preventive measure from saving from coronavirus pandemic at Satrasta, in Mumbai.
BMC Municipal worker fumigation at slum area to preventive measure from saving from coronavirus pandemic at Satrasta, in Mumbai.
Bhushan Koyande

As the BMC leaving no stone unturned to prevent coronavirus spread in the Maximum City, its body does not seem to have any plans to keep a check on the effect of the outbreak in slum areas.

While BMC in last two weeks implemented an elaborate plan to check every household in non-slum housing societies including prominent highrises for all those who have arrived back from a foreign trip, the civic body has left the city’s slum areas unchecked.

However, unlike the other cases who are mostly affluent Mumbaikars, a 68-year-old woman working as a domestic help became the first in the city from an underprivileged background to get infected by coronavirus. Until this week, it was largely travellers from the affluent class or those with the history of foreign travel who had tested positive for Covid19.

The case of this domestic help has raised questions over the BMC’s preparedness to tackle the situation if positive coronavirus cases erupt in densely populated slum areas of Mumbai. After she was tested positive her family members too queued up at Kasturba hospital on Thursday afternoon to get themselves tested for coronavirus

The family now fears more for their teenaged sons. The domestic help herself possibly contracted the virus from the family of the US returned employer BMC officials said. The maid, her son, daughter in law and one of her two grandsons live in a slum. After the mother-in-law tested positive the civic body asked her family members to get themselves tested at once. The BMC officials said, the maid's son himself was not in favour of getting himself tested but after the doctors convinced him he agreed to do so. "Workers from our solid waste management team have sanitised the area around the domestic help's house using sodium hydrochloride also other households nearby were inspected to see anyone exhibited symptoms," said the local ward officer on the condition of anonymity.

A BMC official said, "Slums are currently a low-risk area for us hence unless there is any case we are not worried about these areas. We are currently targeting only those with a history of travel to the affected countries."

A ward officer said, "We have instructions to keep a close vigil on non-slum housing societies where possible cases with foreign travel history are coming up, so we are not checking slum areas.”

Meanwhile, a social activist from Dharavi Rama Gurudev said, “We are sitting on a ticking time bomb. If the cases spread in slums, it will be nothing less than a disaster.”

I think a team should start keeping vigil on slums and chawls residents of which are in close contact with affluent families in some or the other way."

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