Dharavi: 3K need institutional isolation

Mumbai: The inter-ministerial team from the central government that visited Mumbai this week has said that nearly 2,000 to 3,000 people in Dharavi require to be institutionally quarantined as home quarantine is not proving to be an effective containment strategy in Asia’s largest slum.

Mumbai has seen a rise in cases every day with the implementation of lockdown and containment measures proving to be a challenging task for the local administration. The team led by additional secretary Manoj Joshi came to the city earlier this week and visited city hotspots of Dharavi, Wadala and Govandi. Dharavi, with a population of close to 10 lakh, has so far seen 200 Covid-19 cases and 13 deaths.

The inter-ministerial team found that lockdown here was getting difficult because people had to come out of their homes to use the community toilet. To address this, the team suggested to local officials that mobile toilets be installed in high containment zones where people are discouraged from using community toilets.

The panel has also recommended that Mumbai increase testing numbers, and use volunteers to expand the surveillance in the hot spot zones. The team also discussed how to ensure the opening up of hospitals for non-Covid19 patients. Mumbai is seen as the Achilles heel in India’s fight against Covid-19. Despite the lockdown, the city has seen a sharp increase in cases. Maharashtra accounts for about 40% of Covid-19 deaths in the country.

Experts said the disease has exposed fundamental gaps in the city’s infrastructure and development.

In a place like Dharavi, the authorities have to be on war footing to trace patients and isolate them, says Rahul Ghule, founder of 1 rupee clinic, an organisation that has been screening people in other hot spot zones of the city.

The local team there has screened 37,000 people, it is a small number compared to the population of the area, Ghule told ET. “You need to ramp up basic screening, find cases and isolate them. Otherwise the numbers will keep going up,” he said.

Currently, the only quarantine facility in Dharavi is a nearby sports complex with a capacity of 1,200 persons only, less than half the number of people the central team wanted tested in Dharavi.

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