Covid-19: Why cramped Dharavi is a concern for experts

Updated on Apr 15, 2020 10:29 AM IST

Activists and health workers had expressed concerns over how social distancing is practically impossible in the Dharavi area.

A medical screening organised for the residents of Shastri Nagar slums in Mumbai’s Dharavi on Tuesday, during the nationwide lockdown.(Satish Bate/HT Photo)
A medical screening organised for the residents of Shastri Nagar slums in Mumbai’s Dharavi on Tuesday, during the nationwide lockdown.(Satish Bate/HT Photo)
Hindustan Times, Mumbai | ByHT Correspondent

Dharavi, the largest slum in India, has reported 55 Covid-19 positive cases, making it an emerging hotspot in Mumbai.

Dharavi reported the first case on April 1, when a 56-year-old garment shop owner succumbed to the infection. The civic authorities swung into action, targeting high-risk as well as low-risk contacts. By April 9, Dharavi had recorded 17 positive cases. The BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation, Mumbai’s civic body, has created a total of 29 containment zones to restrict public movement in the area.

The 240-hectare slum pocket has 8,50,000 residents and a population density of 66,000 per sqkm, making it one of the more cramped spaces in Mumbai, the world’s fifth most densely populated city.

Activists and health workers had expressed concerns over how social distancing is practically impossible in an area where an average of 10-12 people stay in each of 57,000 housing units measuring around 250 sq ft.

Six new coronavirus cases, including two deaths, were reported from Dharavi on Tuesday, taking the total number of people affected by the disease in Mumbai’s slum area to 55.

“Cases are increasing day by day, but this is the result of our proactive search operation of high-risk contacts and testing methods. We have successfully tracked 1,381 high-risk contacts and 3,450 low-risk contacts to avoid further spread of the disease,” said Kiran Dighavkar, assistant commissioner, G-North Ward (which covers the area).

The Maharashtra government plans to deploy additional police forces around containment areas for controlling crowds, especially in crowded areas such as Dharavi

The civic body has quarantined 2,184 Dharavi residents and tested 138 high-risk contacts and 3,450 low-risk contacts of the patients from the slum so far. The BMC authorities are also ensuring that the quarantined people get essential supplies such as food and medicine.

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