Till April 25, the last when the civic body provided ward-wise break-up of COVID-19 positive cases, the number of cases in K (West) ward comprising Andheri West, Versova, Juhu and Vile Parle West among other areas was 373 cases. As on May 4, however, the number of cases jumped to 619, recording a 60 per cent increase.
As per a containment zone report on the ward, in these nine days, 130 new containment zones were added here, taking the total number of such zones in it to a staggering 285. Most of these new cases were detected in Gilbert Hill, Juhu Gully, Gaondevi Dongari and Versova Village in Andheri West, Nehru Nagar in Vile Parle West and Behraum Baug in Jogeshwari West – most of the contained structures here being chawls.
The ward has, however, always been one of the most badly affected ones in terms of the number of positive cases. While 131 have recovered, 21 persons have died. On April 4, a month ago, the ward had 25 cases, but still was the third most affected ward of 24 wards in the city. Over the days, it had come down the list, though there was always a steady increase in cases. On April 13, in a relief, it was the ninth-most affected ward. But slowly thereafter, the cases only increased and by April 25, it was back to its position of the third-most affected ward.Mehar Haider is the local councillor of some areas near Andheri station west. Gilbert Hill, Gaondevi Dongri, Juhu Gully – some of the worst affected areas come under her municipal ward. As in many slums, with no private bathrooms in homes, people use public toilets, thus increasing the risk of infection. “Nine to ten people, mostly migrants, are living in 10x10 sq. ft spaces, with no ventilation. Family members of those tested positive are not being quarantined. They don’t have space for self-quarantine either,” Haider says. Most are daily wagers, she says, with the well-off among them being hawkers. The nearest hospital - run by a trust which took it on the civic body’s lease, is refusing to function as a quarantine centre, she says.In Junaid Nagar, Samta Nagar and Khajurwadi areas – declared containment zones, local councillor Sudha Singh says there are new cases daily. “There is a medical staff crunch. Where a team is needed, a single doctor attends,” she says.
BJP MLA Ameet Satam representing Andheri West constituency blames BMC’s lack of planning and aggressive contact screening for the spike in cases in the ward the past couple of days. “The opening of wine shops has made the situation worse when already the lockdown was not being properly enforced,” Satam says. “The seriousness that the BMC had in the first month (of the lockdown) is missing now. I had to fight for 24 hours to get them to screen the family member of a deceased positive patient before they tested the person,” he says.
Assistant Municipal Commissioner of the ward Vishwas Mote however said to the contrary that the cases were increasing, but due to aggressive testing and surveillance done in the last week.