With Asia’s largest slum, Dharavi, recording its fourth positive coronavirus case Saturday, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) is starting screening clinics in containment zones and densely populated areas in Mumbai, with 10 such facilities beginning operations Sunday.
The move follows a rise in cases in hotspot areas, especially near slum pockets. And is the latest step in the BMC’s pushback — from conducting the most number of tests in any city (over 9,500) to ramping up isolation-bed capacity to 2,689 and quarantine to 1,119.
With Mumbai recording 330 positive cases nearly two weeks into the national lockdown, the Corporation has deployed 200 teams with over 3,100 staff for door-to-door tracking.
This push is significant because any turnaround in the city will be key to whatever exit strategy that Maharashtra is looking at after the 21-day lockdown period. The state has conducted 12,859 tests so far, with 635 positive cases.
With the country’s biggest and busiest international airport, Mumbai’s first cases showed up on March 11 — an elderly couple from Dubai. BMC officials said that since then, 7,000 people have been put in home quarantine, with 2,133 having completed their 14-day isolation period.
With over 200 designated containment zones, and densely packed areas like Worli, Malad, Chembur and Ghatkopar seeing a rise in cases, each of the BMC’s new screening clinics will have a doctor and nurse who will collect swab samples to be sent to Sion Hospital for testing.
Officials said three municipal zones will have two clinics each, with one each in the remaining four zones.
“Since zones 2, 4 and 5 have more than 15 cases of COVID-19 each, it was decided to set up one additional screening clinic there. The medical officer of the health department in each ward will organise a doctor and a nurse for the clinic while other logistics like PPE for staff will be arranged by assistant commissioners of each ward. The collection of swabs will be facilitated by Dr Sujata Baveja of Sion hospital and her team. The test samples will be transported by municipal vehicles to hospital,” a BMC official said.
Officials said these clinics will be operational from 9 am to 1 pm, and health officers in charge will ensure that social distancing norms are followed.
Five hospitals, meanwhile, have been dedicated for symptomatic patients: Kasturba, Saifee, St George, Seven Hills and Nanawati. And seven others for non-symptomatic positive cases. Official data shows 28 per cent occupancy in isolation and 18 per cent in quarantine beds.
Referring to the beds available, a BMC official said: “This will help in efficient handling of elderly patients with co-morbidity who are positive for coronavirus and admitted in the five dedicated hospitals.”
Then, there are the numbers that tell the story:
# 2.7 lakh international travellers screened till March 22.
# 9 lakh people informed, educated and screened across 2.4 lakh homes.
# Helpline logged 4,239 calls till April 3, and 230 suspected cases have been advised tests.
Other measures include CCTV cameras in containment zones, home-testing by four private labs based on prescription, requisition of empty spaces to quarantine contacts of positive cases, and tie-ups with food delivery Apps to deliver groceries amid the lockdown.
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