Mumbai’s Chembur area to go under lockdown?
With M-West ward that covers Chembur clocking in the highest number of new Covid-19 cases, a majority of them from high-rises, the ward office on Monday started issuing new guidelines to societies and directed the hawkers to undergo Covid-19 tests. Civic officials also hinted at the possibility of “imposition of local lockdown measures” to control rising cases, and insisted on starting the drive for the elderly in the ward at the earliest.
A week ago, the ward was recording less than 15 new cases daily, which has now increased to more than 25 cases. The daily Covid-19 growth rate of the ward is 0.28%, higher than the city’s average growth rate of 0.14%. Civic officials have blamed negligent behaviour by citizens who are violating guidelines issued by the Centre and state government. Taking cognisance of the situation, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has started issuing stringent guidelines to residential societies in the ward with the subject line—‘Appeal/Instructions to all societies to follow strict covid guidelines’.
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The notice has laid down five basic guidelines that societies need to implement. These are – “Your society will restrict entry of outsiders to minimum including maids/milk man etc; measures like thermal screening to be strictly implemented; positive cases, if any in society, to follow strict quarantine guidelines by family for 14 days; others in the family to get tested compulsorily as high-risk contacts and any other symptomatic person in society to get checked for Covid through MCGM.”
The notice further reads that the civic body has started sealing buildings and societies with higher prevalence of Covid-19 cases.
As HT reported on Monday, there has been an increase in group infections in the ward with public dropping their guard. “We have also started a house-to-house survey. We are getting cases of group infection where seven-eight people from the same family have tested positive for the virus. It is the responsibility of the public to follow safety rules,” said Prithviraj Chauhan, assistant municipal commissioner, M/W ward. “Weddings and family functions are turning into super spreader events.”
While issuing guidelines to residential societies, the ward officer also hinted at imposition of a local lockdown if citizens are not cautious in controlling the cases.
The notice available with HT reads, “At present M-W ward is reporting the highest daily cases which is matter of concern and there are chances that we might have to impose local lockdown measures.” When asked, Chauhan said he has already informed the higher authority about it. “The final call on imposing local lockdown has to be taken by the BMC,” he added.
To control the spread, the ward officer has suggested starting the vaccination programme for the elderly at the earliest. “The AMC (the additional municipal commissioner) will be reviewing the issue on vaccination, and take a decision on it tomorrow,” he added.
Additionally, the ward, starting February 14, started testing hawkers and shopkeepers. “Just like the past, we have started focusing on places that get a high number of people. So, we are testing hawkers from ‘khao gallies’ and vegetables sellers,” said Dr Bhupendra Patil, medical officer health (MOH) of the ward.
As per BMC dashboard, M-W ward has the lowest doubling rate (245 days). Till February 13, the average doubling rate of the city stood at 479 days.
On Sunday, the city recorded more than 600 new cases. Talking to HT, Suresh Kakani, additional municipal commissioner, BMC, attributed it to four factors —foreign travellers, domestic passengers from Kerala, more testing and resumption of local trains for all. “On a daily basis, we are conducting over 15,000 tests, which is contributing to new Covid-19 cases. Opening local trains for everyone can also be a factor, but it would be too early to say so. We have to wait for another week to make an assessment,” said Kakani.