Dharavi witnesses a 62% jump in COVID-19 cases this month
(Sourced from PTI)
Dharavi, the biggest slum in Mumbai, has reported 272 coronavirus cases so far in March as against the entire February's infection count of 168, a rise of 62 percent, civic officials said on Saturday. The officials said that the number of single-day cases in Dharavi, which had started steadily going up since February, has witnessed a significant jump, starting this month.
The spike in cases in this slum sprawl, which is spread over 2.5 sq km of area, has set alarm bells ringing for the authorities, although they say that they are better prepared this year to tackle the situation as compared to last year when the outbreak had started. Till March 19, Dharavi has reported 272 cases.
The officials said that the cases being reported now are scattered across the slum and not concentrated in any particular pocket. Dharavi currently has 72 active COVID-19 cases. Of the total number of 4,133 patients, 3,745 have recovered, while 316 have died.
Around 6.5 lakh people live in Dharavi, with a population density of 2,27,136 per sq km. Maintaining social distancing there is a tough task, as families of eight to 10 members live in 10x10 hutments and residents have to walk along narrow lanes lined with crowded tenements on either side. This slum is also home to several small-scale leather, pottery, and textile manufacturing units.
The first COVID-19 patient in Dharavi was found on April 1 last year, about 20 days after the city reported its first case. Thereafter, the daily case count in Dharavi kept rising and it was declared as a COVID-19 hotspot. In the first week of May 2020, it had reported 94 cases in a single day, its highest daily count.
According to Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) officials, "The daily number of cases from Dharavi went down significantly from November and there were days when it did not report any case in January and February."
In the last four months, the slum hardly reported any double-digit daily growth in cases. The highest single-day count during this entire period came on February 16, when it recorded 16 new cases. Through a number of steps, including proactive screening with the assistance of private doctors and community support, the authorities had managed to flatten the curve of viral spread.
Even the World Health Organization (WHO) took cognizance of the efforts and praised the "Dharavi pattern." Kiran Dighavkar, the assistant Municipal Commissioner of BMC's G-North ward that houses Dharavi, said that the number of COVID-19 cases in this slum is rising due to "pro-active testing and screening," but the situation is quite different from last year and fully under control.
"Last year, there were limitations on testing, and reports were getting delayed. Now, there are no such constraints as an ample number of testing kits are available and we could do on-the-spot testing of all the traced contacts of a positive patient," Dighavkar said.