After slums in Worli and Dharavi, Mumbai’s L-ward, which includes Kurla and Sakinaka areas has emerged as another COVID-19 hotspot. With over 350 cases, the ward has the fourth highest number of infected patients after Worli, Byculla and Andheri West, as per BMC data as on April 25.
In the last 15 days, the ward has seen a four-time increase in cases. Officials said over 70 per cent cases in the ward are from its slum pockets and that while a strict lockdown would be implemented in these pockets, all senior citizens would be checked for comorbidity.
To start with, BMC will make Ashok Nagar, which has over 5,000 people living in slums, a containment zone. The BMC data shows that till April 14, L-ward, particularly Kurla, had reported 85 cases. On April 25, the number jumped to 371 — an increase of over four times. Officials said at least six to seven hotspots have emerged in the densely populated slums of Kurla.
Areas like Jarimari, Pipeline Road, Qureshi Nagar, LBS Road near Hari Masjid and Sunderbaug have 80 per cent of the cases. Officials said the infection spread from 174 infected people living in the area.
Assistant Municipal Commissioner, L Ward (Kurla), Manish Valunje, said the number of cases have increased because of rigorous contact tracing. “Of the total cases, about 70 per cent are high and low risk contacts traced by health workers. Starting with Ashok Nagar, we have decided to implement strict lockdown for one week… our team will screen all senior citizens with comorbidity,” Valunje added.
In Ashok Nagar, BMC has so far found nine cases and declared four areas as containment zones. Overall, L ward has more than 140 containment zones.
Valunje said the model will be replicated in other areas where the number of cases are high and residents are violating lockdown rules.
RTI activist and resident of Kurla, Anil Galgali, said the numbers would not have increased had there been screening from the start. “Since most private clinics are shut, many cases went undetected. Also, BMC should intensify door-to-door screening.” Valunje said most of the 100 private clinics in Kurla are shut.
Another activist and resident of Kurla, Jitendra Gupta, blamed long-pending redevelopment of slums and unauthorised shanties for the spread of the infection. “Most of the cases have been found in dense slum pockets, many of which have come up illegally. If slums have been redeveloped in time, we would have not faced this situation,” Gupta added.