Reverse migration, unlocking: Surge in daily caseload since September

The globally lauded 'Dharavi model' seems to be taking a beating. Once a Covid-19 hotspot in Mumbai, there seems to be a relapse in the area. Cases have begun to slowly surge, after the downward trend witnessed in the daily caseload during July and August. Authorities attribute the latest rise in infections to unlocking and migrants returning from their hometowns.

At one point, the number of daily cases in June and July had come down to single digits. But by the end of August, this number became double digits and cases began increasing gradually since September. In June, Dharavi had registered total 463 cases which slid to 274 in July; 215 cases were reported in August, but in September, the number shot up to 396. As for this month, in just one week 100 cases have been recorded. On Tuesday, October 5, there were 19 new cases, followed by 22 and 12 on Wednesday and Thursday.

"We had expected a surge in Dharavi as the city started unlocking. Also, workshops and factories in the areas have opened, leading to many migrants returning. This is not just the case in Dharavi, but a phenomenon witnessed across the city, leading to a surge in cases. However, our strategy has not changed. We have still been isolating as many people as possible, like we did earlier. Besides, we are still working on a war footing to detect cases early and provide timely treatment and save lives," Kiran Dighavkar, Assistant Municipal Commissioner of G (North) ward told The Free Press Journal.

Dharavi is spread over an area of 2.5 square kilometres and has a population of 650,000. People live in shanties and dilapidated buildings with narrow lanes and open sewers. Dharavi's 1st Covid patient was detected on April 1, nearly three weeks after Mumbai recorded its 1st positive case on March 11.

Various international agencies, including the World Health Organisation (WHO), and most recently, the World Bank, had praised the civic body for its efficient pandemic management in congested areas like Dharavi, Asia's largest slum. The Dharavi model was emulated worldwide in areas which are congested and where social distancing is not possible, on account of the population density.

As many as 2,808 patients have already recovered and been discharged from various Covid facilities in Dharavi, Dighavkar informed. "Despite the rising number of cases, we have a very good recovery rate. Which shows that our strategy is working, even as the city is getting back to the new normal," added Dighavkar. As on October 7, Dharavi had only 192 active cases, of the total 3,292 cumulative cases.

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Free Press Journal