A BMC official said the nine deaths had taken place on different dates but the information was collated on Tuesday. The index patient, detected on April 1, was a resident of a high-rise at Baliga Nagar in Dharavi, the official said.
Spread over 2.4 sq km, Dharavi, Asia’s largest slum, is home to some 60,000 families and 8.5 lakh people — it is among the most densely packed settlements. Nearly 84 per cent of cases, in the slum sprawl have been reported from congested areas, the maximum from 31 pockets.
An Inter-Ministerial Central Team that visited the area on May 8 had found that social distancing was difficult to achieve in the dense pockets and had directed that more people should be sent to institutional quarantine to stop the spread of the virus.
While Mumbai currently is tracing three contacts for each infected person, Municipal Commissioner Iqbal Singh Chahal has recently directed civic officials to increase the ratio to six contacts per patient, and more in Dharavi. Subsequently, Dharavi, where contacts were so far being classified into high and low risk, has now started marking all the contacts of a patient as high risk if they reside in slum settlements and use community toilets.
“We are shifting more people from the slums into institutional quarantine and expanding our contact tracing. For example, earlier, if a person from the slum settlement tested positive for coronavirus, his immediate family members and neighbours were marked as high risk and shifted to institutional quarantine. But now, we are including everyone from the cluster in the list who used the community toilet that was used by the positive patient,” said Kiran Dighavkar, Assistant Municipal Commissioner, G-North Ward.
Pointing that around 70 per cent of Dharavi’s population was daily wage earners — working in small-scale leather and packaging industries – and auto-rickshaw drivers among others, Dighavkar noted that these people, mostly without savings, were stepping outside their homes daily amid the lockdown to either arrange for food and essential items or collect food packets.
“With migrant workers now moving to their home states, we are checking the number of people dependent on food packets distributed in the area. In addition, it should also be noted that many essential services employees reside at Dharavi, who travel to work daily,” an official said.
Dharavi currently has nine quarantine facilities in schools, sports complexes, hostels and community halls. Till May 8, a total of 2,380 people remained under institutional quarantine, but the central team said the number of those who require isolation may go up if all high-risk contacts are shifted to quarantine facilities. The BMC is now set to screen all residents living in the containment zones.
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