Mumbai: Ward officials to track travel history of each COVID-19 positive patient

Taking note of the sudden spike in the number of COVID-19 cases, the BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has begun tracing the travel history and whereabouts of the last 15 days of those who test positive for the virus.

In the past three weeks, multiple municipal wards in the western suburbs have recorded a sudden spike in the active COVID-19 case tally. R Central (Borivali) ward, K West (Andheri West and Juhu), R South (Kandivali), H west (Bandra, Khar and Santacruz) and P North (Malad) are amongst the few wards with a high case tally and growth rate.

Senior civic officials said that, amongst the new cases, more than 50 per cent of the patients have a travel history.

Suresh Kakani, additional municipal and in charge of public health in BMC, took a survey of the municipal wards in the western suburbs that have recorded a spike recently. Kakani said that it has been observed that, in most of the wards, COVID-19 protocols are not being followed now.

"We have ordered all the local ward officers to track down the travel information and whereabouts of each new fresh patient. This is the best possible way to trace the high risk contacts at an earlier stage," Kakani told the Free Press Journal.

"More than 50 per cent of the new patients have been infected after attending a social gathering or function. The rest of the patients are their close contacts, which is why we need to keep a check now," Kakani added.

Bhagyashree Kapse, assistant municipal commissioner and in charge of R Central (Borivali) ward, said that 55 per cent of the new cases are amongst those who have attended functions or have traveled recently. 25 per cent of the new cases are their close contacts. The remaining 20 per cent are those who have started travelling in local trains after the restrictions were lifted.

"We are aggressively tracing all the close contacts and are isolating them. Many of them hide their travel history; however, we investigate and find that out," Kapse told the Free Press Journal.

"For every one positive patient, there are at least 20 to 25 close contacts who are at high risk, which is why tracking them is so important now," Kapse added.

Vinayak Vispute, ward officer of H West (Bandra West, Santacruz and Khar) ward, said that all the fresh cases in his ward are the high risk contacts of patients who were infected earlier.

A senior civic health official from the K West (Andheri, Juhu and Vile Parle) ward, said that they are keeping a close watch on hotels, as this ward is in close proximity to the airport. "Most of the patients check into the hotels at Andheri, so we are monitoring these hotels closely. We have asked the owners to record the travel history of each incoming passenger in detail," said the official.

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