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Civic body shortlists hotels, buildings to be used as quarantine facilities if cases surge further

BMC has instructed all wards to improve ‘testing, tracing and treatment’. Between Monday and Tuesday, BMC has traced 12,411 contacts of Covid-19 patients, of them 60 per cent were high-risk. Most are under home isolation.

Written by Tabassum Barnagarwala | Mumbai |
February 25, 2021 12:38:37 am
The district also saw record 19,191 tests, with the sample positivity rate (SPR) touching a new high of 27.81 per cent. (Express File Photo)

Civic officials in Mumbai have begun the process of shortlisting hotels, lodges and buildings as a back-up measure if a large population has to be quarantined in the near future. On Wednesday, Mumbai recorded 1,167 fresh Covid-19 cases.

After societies in M-West ward (Govandi-Chembur) were issued letters last week following a spike in cases, several wards have followed suit and started asking housing societies to restrict the movement of outsiders and restart screening of domestic help, drivers and delivery agents before entry.

In Malabar Hill and Grant Road (D-ward), 120 societies have been issued notices to re-start thermal screening at entry point and avoid entry of outsiders if possible. “We have issued this notice to only societies where one or two Covid-19 cases have been found. Buildings with more than five cases are sealed,” said Prashant Gaikwad, assistant commissioner in D-ward. He has shortlisted a hotel, to be converted into a quarantine centre, if cases surge.

In Ghatkopar, an SRA building with 500 rooms has been reserved for same purpose. “The collector has given this building to the BMC for a year. Currently, most cases are limited to high-rises and home isolation is possible. If cases start increasing in slums, we will have to use the SRA building,” said Ajit Kumar Ambi, assistant commissioner in N-ward.

Two areas in N-ward, Pant Nagar and the neighbourhood of Rajawadi Hospital, have witnessed a spike in coronavirus infection. Since Monday, health officials in N-ward have begun holding meetings with various society members to advise them on testing, quarantine and against large gatherings. “In six marriage halls in my jurisdiction, I have directed the catering and housekeeping staff to be tested every three weeks,” said Ambi.

Across Mumbai, 401 people are in institutional quarantine. Maximum people in institutional quarantine are from Kurla, in the L-ward. The city has recorded 11,229 fresh cases this month since the reopening of local trains for the general public. Such a spike was last noted post Diwali. Maximum cases have been found in T-ward (Mulund), N-ward (Ghatkopar), K -west (Andheri West), H-West (Santacruz west), and M-west ward (Govandi-Chembur).

In T-ward, which covers Mulund, at least 600 new cases have been detected in the last 10 days. Assistant Commissioner at BMC, Kishor Gandhi, said all cases are scattered and have no link to any super spreader event.

“We already have a jumbo facility so quarantining clusters of population won’t be an issue. Since most of the cases are limited to housing societies, they prefer home isolation,” he said.

BMC has instructed all wards to improve ‘testing, tracing and treatment’. Between Monday and Tuesday, BMC has traced 12,411 contacts of Covid-19 patients, of them 60 per cent were high-risk. Most are under home isolation.

Civic officials said since people have started travelling outside their homes, the number of high-risk contacts per case have shot up. There are 51 active containment zones, most limited to slums and chawls, and another 815 sealed buildings across the city.

Last week, Additional Municipal Commissioner Suresh Kakani had directed all jumbo facilities to keep stock of medicines, equipment, oxygen and staff in case patient admissions rise. As of Wednesday, of 13,914 beds, 3,510 were filled with Covid-19 patients and a bulk of beds were vacant.

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