MUMBAI: The death of a COVID-19 patient from Mumbai’s Dharavi, known as one of the biggest slums in Asia, has exposed its residents to the threat of contracting the viral infection and sparked fear of its spread in the highly-congested area. As a precautionary measure, the authorities have sealed the entire area — along with the slum rehabilitation authority (SRV) building in which the patient lived — and restricted movement of the people there.
The area has been demarcated as a ‘containment zone’, a civic official said. “All high-risk contacts of the deceased have been stamped and quarantined. The swab samples of his family members and some building residents have been sent for testing,” the official said. A total of 416 Covid-19 positive cases have been reported in Maharashtra and there have been 19 deaths. In Mumbai, 57 Covid-19 positive patients were reported on Thursday.
The Union Health Ministry on Thursday said according to protocol contact tracing and testing is being conducted there. Confirming the death, Health Ministry Joint Secretary Lav Agrawal said the local authorities have sealed 300 buildings in the slum. “As we are testing more, the number of positive cases is higher in Mumbai,” said Pravin Pardeshi, BMC commissioner. “We have to conduct as many tests so that we identify the areas where this infection is present in large numbers,” Pardeshi added.
A 52-year-old BMC sweeper, who stays in Worli and Dharavi, has also tested positive on Thursday. He was admitted to Seven Hills Hospital for treatment. His co-workers and people who came in contact with him are under home quarantine. “We have put barricades and deployed additional police so that the people of this area don’t come out,” the BMC official added.
Dr Shrinivas Chavan, head of ENT department at Sir Jamshedji Jeejeebhoy (JJ) Hospital, said that the government should focus on Dharavi than other upscale areas. “If COVID-19 spreads in Dharavi, then it will be difficult to contain the virus. People of this area also need to cooperate with the government,” said Dr Chavan.