Mumbai: Days after Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray asked the administration to be more vigilant and step up containment measures to curb rising Covid-19 cases, the BMC has launched a comprehensive plan to keep tabs on citizens flouting rules of home-isolation, while those failing to observe pandemic norms at wedding and public gatherings will be prosecuted.
An FIR will be lodged against such persons for non-compliance. The BMC proposes to once again pursue its tracing, tracking, treatment and isolation/quarantine to curb infection.
The civic body has asked its staff to aim for Mission Zero in wards where cases are on the rise. Area-mapping will be done and the maximum testing will be conducted in such areas. At least 15 close contacts per patient will be tracked and isolated.
Residential buildings with more than five active Covid-19 patients will be sealed and those instructed to quarantine at home will have their hands stamped accordingly, as was being done in the early stages of the pandemic outbreak last year. Asymptomatic patients in home quarantine will be contacted 5 to 6 times daily, to check on their health status.
Close contacts will be segregated after their information is obtained from those affected.
If an asymptomatic patient steps out of isolation before the completion of their prescribed period of home-quarantine or enters a public place, the housing society should inform the BMC ward war room, which will take action against the erring patient; Institutional quarantine would also be a possibility for such patients.
Travellers coming to Mumbai from Brazil will be put into compulsory 7 days institutional quarantine.
BMC Commissioner Iqbal Chahal held a video conference with the additional commissioner and other senior officers and directed strict implementation of Covid-19 norms in the city. He subsequently briefed the government.
Three hundred marshals will be appointed to take action against those travelling in trains without masks. Marshal strength will be doubled from the existing 2,400 to 4,800 to keep a check on citizens travelling unmasked. The BMC plans to take action against 25,000,through its marshals, for violation of norms.
Apart from fining those not masking up, marshals are also keeping a watch on those failing to maintain appropriate physical distance at public places.
The BMC said on Thursday it was going to recruit nearly 300 marshals to fine violators. Assistant Municipal Commissioner Prashant Sapkale said the focus of the civic body was on the markets in Andheri, where rules were not being obeyed.
"Despite warning, citizens continue to flout norms, so we have tightened the density of marshals deployed in an area. Even if we see people commuting on public transport without wearing masks, we are fining them on the spot," stated Sapkale.
Female marshals will be appointed at places of worship and will be authorised to act against those walking without a mask or for gatherings of more than 50 people at a time.
Police are now authorised to fine citizens roaming about without masks. Regular inspection will be conducted at halls, wedding venues. BMC has warned that violation of any rules will lead to legal action against the organisers and the concerned management.
Municipal school teachers will be stationed at civic buildings, offices and hospitals and will be empowered to take punitive action against those who walk without masks.
Health check-up camps will be organised in slums and densely populated areas with the help of NGOs to check on suspected cases. The tracing and tracking of corona patients will be done through mobile dispensaries (mobile vans).
Chahal has instructed that at least one corona care centre 1 for high-risk contacts and corona care centre 2 for asymptomatic patients should be functional within the boundaries of each ward. He has also asked to review the capacity of jumbo centres so that there will be adequate availability of regular and oxygen beds.
The emergency management department will update the information of Covid-19 patients, patient beds and other necessary information from all government and private hospitals in the BMC area by the hour, through a dashboard.
Starting Thursday, the civic body had started cracking down on crowded places and penalising those found violating Covid norms.
With Mumbai local trains open to all, crowding at suburban railway stations has been observed. In addition, a number of people are seen in public without face masks. "As a result of crowding and non-compliance, the number of cases have started surging. We have been appealing to people repeatedly to follow Covid-19 norms regularly, as this is the new normal until everyone is vaccinated. Carelessness is leading to a rise in the number of cases," said Mumbai Mayor Kishori Pednekar.
Last year, at Ganeshotsav, the number of cases had begun rising, in August-September. It was past November by the time the civic body managed to get a grip on the situation. By January, the number of cases had fallen to as low as 500-600 a day.
"Once the number of cases started declining, containment measures too were made less stringent. But citizens need to understand that they cannot take Covid-19 safety protocols lightly. We managed to push back cases because of our strategy. We have reviewed the situation and now masks have been officially made compulsory in local trains too, for commuters as well as railway staff," said Chahal.
Ignoring the rules:
Hotels in Mumbai have been allowed to stay open till 1pm, with injunctions to operate at 50 per cent seating capacity. But this rule was being flouted. At weddings, only 50 attendees are allowed but this rule is being violated. There are crowds at parks/ playgrounds, beaches etc. In view of this, the commissioner has directed the assistant commissioners of wards and other officials to keep a close watch on public space.
The market areas of Dadar, Andheri and Lalbaug have been recording heavy footfall ever since the state government initiated its 'Mission Begin Again'.
According to civic officials, now that unlocking has happened, it is not possible to restrict movements of Mumbaikars, hence strict action will have to be taken against violators of Covid norms, henceforth.
"We have already increased the number of marshals deployed in each ward, now we are adding more marshals at public places like markets, railway stations and bus stops where they will fine violators aggressively," Deputy Municipal Commissioner Parag Masurkar told The Free Press Journal.