‘Dharavi, inspiration for the world’: Uddhav Thackeray lauds Covid-19 containment model in Asia’s largest slum
Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray has hailed the Dharavi model of Covid 19 containment and said that Asia’s largest slum was an inspiration for the rest of the world on how to contain the spread of coronavirus disease. Uddhav’s comments follow a similar commendation by World Health Organisation (WHO) director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
Dharavi is a densely populated slum area in Mumbai with around 10,00,000 people squeezed in an area spanning 2.5 square kilometers, making it highly vulnerable to spread of contagions such as Covid-19. Yet active surveillance and containment measures including intense screening, testing, sanitation and isolation of Covid patients and suspects has led to a continuous tapering off in the number of new infections in the area. This is all the more impressive given the high rate of infection in the rest of Mumbai and other cities of Maharashtra.
Maintaining social distance is a challenge in Dharavi, which is spread over 2.5 sq km with population density of 2,27,136 per sq km. Not just that, according to a senior BMC official, at least 80 percent of its population depends on 450 community toilets and the administration had to sanitise and disinfect these toilets several times a day.
The WHO director general cited Dharavi’s example to say that only aggressive action combined with national unity and global solidarity can turn the pandemic situation around.
“And some of these examples are Italy, Spain and South Korea, and even in Dharavi - a densely packed area in the megacity of Mumbai - a strong focus on community engagement and the basics of testing, tracing, isolating and treating all those that are sick is the key to breaking the chains of transmission and suppressing the virus,” he had said.
In a statement reflecting he shared the sentiment, Thackeray said, “Dharavi is an inspiration for the world on how to curb the spread of a pandemic.”
Thackeray highlighted that 82 percent of patients in Dharavi have recovered from the disease and the number of active cases had dropped sharply in the area to 166. He underlined self discipline and community efforts as key to success achieved in Dharavi.
2,359 Covid-19 cases have been recorded in Dharavi so far, of which 1,952 patients have recovered from the deadly infection. Maharashtra as a whole, on the other hand, has registered 2,38,461 coronavirus cases so far.
Late last month, the central government had acknowledged the efforts put in by Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) in bringing down the infection rate in the area.
Basking under the glory, the civic body on Saturday told news agency PTI that it had to change its traditional approach of waiting for patients, contact tracing, isolation and home quarantine to begin proactive screening instead, which paid rich dividends.
“Proactive screening helped in early detection, timely treatment and recovery,” Kiran Dighavkar, assistant commissioner of the G North ward of the BMC was quoted as saying.
He added that at least six to seven lakh people in the area have been screened so far and 14,000 persons have been tested apart from 13,000, who were placed in institutional quarantine that provided community kitchen apart from medical care for free.
According to the official data, while in April, the doubling rate in Dharavi was 18 days, it gradually improved to 43 days in May and slowed down to 108 and 430 days in June and July respectively.