Mumbai: Residents of Ketkipada slums in Dahisar (East) are anxious after a 45-year-old man selling samosas in the area tested positive for COVID-19 last week. He set up a samosa stall in the area after he was rendered jobless due to the lockdown.
Ten others who claim to have bought samosas regularly from him have tested positive for the disease, too, causing further alarm among residents of the slum.
The anxiousness surrounding these developments in the area has spread more rapidly than the virus, claims the local corporator of the area, who has been flooded with hundreds of calls daily from residents asking for free check-ups since last week.
"I have been getting hundreds of calls in the last two-three days. These are people who have come in contact with the samosa seller and bought samosas from him in the past few days.
People have been panicking and have been frantically calling me or reaching out to our party workers with requests to organise a free health camp for them," said Balkrishna Brid, the local corporator from Shiv Sena.
Authorities said that civic officials are tracing the contacts of those found positive for coronavirus. "Eating samosas cannot be the only factor for the virus outbreak in the entire slum pocket. I have organised health camps in the area since May 13 for the local residents.
However, more testing has resulted in more positive cases coming up in the area," said Brid. Ketkipada slum, one of the worst affected areas of the ward with over 30 COVID-19 cases, was already declared a containment zone.
A man who was rendered jobless due to the lockdown started selling samosas in the area to support his family's financial needs. According to locals, he continued selling samosas until a day prior to his test results arriving.
Nine more positive cases were reported in the area on Friday. Mangesh Bhatkar, a resident of Ketikipada said, “Since our area was declared a containment zone, many in the area bought samosas from him. He set up his stall outside his house and used to cook and sell samosas from there for the past 20 days.
People in the locality are shocked as the majority of them came in contact with him.” When contacted, Sandhya Nandedkar, Assistant Municipal Commissioner of R (North) ward said, "The residents need not panic.
There is a community spread in the Ketkipada slum pocket. The samosa seller is just another victim, people might have come in contact with him and gotten themselves infected. It is one of the worst affected areas in the ward, with more 30 cases from the slum.
It is on our radar and we are surveying the area on priority,” she said. “We have hired a group of educated youth from the slum as 'Covid Yoddhas' (Covid Warriors) to help us with door-to-door screening in the area.
We have given them Thermal scanners, N-95 masks, face shield and gloves. They fill up a form with resident’s name and their temperatures etc, with symptoms, if they have at all. We have trained these Covid Yoddhas,” Nair added.
The total number of COVID-19 cases in R (North) ward stands at 163, which is a 20 per cent rise in just 19 days. On April 26, the ward recorded just 33 cases. The ward is still one of the least affected wards in Mumbai. According to Nandedkar, around 55 people have been cured and discharged in the ward.