MUMBAI: After the first death of a COVID-19 patient in Asia’s largest slum pocket, Dharavi, two more coronavirus patients were detected in the same locality in Mumbai. As a precautionary measure, the local authority has sealed the entire area and restricted public movement here.
A 52-year-old sweeper of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation's (BMC) conservancy department, who stays in Worli and was in Dharavi for work, was detected positive for COVID-19 on Thursday. He was admitted to Seven Hills hospital for further treatment. His co-workers and people who came in contact with him are home quarantined.
Also, a 35-year-old medical doctor from Dharavi was detected as coronavirus positive on Friday. His entire ground plus 14-storey building has been marked as contaminated by the BMC.
A total of 300 people are staying in 48 flats of this building where the BMC and police have restricted movement. In Maharashtra, a total of 19 deaths and 416 COVID-19 positive patients have been reported till now.
In Mumbai, a total of 57 COVID-19 patients were reported on Thursday. Mumbai has got the highest COVID-19 cases across the state with 238 and most of the new cases have been reported from the slum pockets.
Joint Secretary (Health Department) Lav Agarwal confirmed that a death had occurred due to COVID-19 in Dharavi. He said that the local authority has sealed the 300 buildings of this slum area to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
BMC commissioner Pravin Pardeshi said that in Mumbai, more number of COVID-19 patients are tested and hence the number of positive patients are the highest. "In fact, we have to conduct as many tests as possible so that we will be able to identify the areas where the COVID-19 infection is in large numbers. It will help to decide our further strategy," Pardeshi said.
The New Indian Express had earlier reported that Dharavi will be a major challenge to the local authority to contain the outbreak of the COVID 19 pandemic. More than 15 lakh people are located over 613 hectares of the slum.
A BMC official said that they have sealed 191 locations of Mumbai where no public movement has been allowed. "We have decided to focus on the particular areas where the more number of COVID-19 patients are surfacing. Last Wednesday, one 56-year-old COVID positive patient from Dharavi died so we informed the rest of the residents of the building not to come out. We told them whatever they needed that facilities will be provided to them," said the BMC official who requested anonymity.
He added that a similar practice has been followed in other 191 contaminated areas. "We have put barricades and deployed additional police fprce so that people of this area will not come out. We are regularly updating this contaminated areas list in our site so people can take precautions. We are strictly locking the sectors and specific locations. We asked the society and slum people to make a list of the grocery and other essential commodities which they needed, then one person of the society be allowed to go out to buy these things," BMC official added.
Dr Shrinivas Chavan from Sir JJ Hospital said that the government should focus on Dharavi more than any other upscale area. "If COVID-19 spreads in Dharavi, then it will be difficult to contain this deadly virus. People of this area also need to cooperate with the government. Dharavi is a time bomb in the time of the coronavirus pandemic. If it is not contained on time, it will explode," said Chavan.