M East Ward, one of the poorest areas in the city, has reported 80 positive cases so far. Mumbai Mirror, quoting officials, said that at least 30 new cases were reported within 48 hours of diagnostic clinics being set up in the slum pockets of Shivaji Nagar, Baiganwadi and Lotus Colony.
261 high-risk cases from the slums of Shivaji Nagar and Baiganwadi have been identified and moved to institutional quarantine. Out of the 44 people who were screened at Lotus Colony, 29 tested positive. 38 cases have been reported in Shivaji Nagar alone.
Realising the challenge these cases pose, the local body has sealed the area. Local police has been called in to make sure people don’t come out of their houses.
M East Ward stretches from Mankhurd Road going to Vashi, including areas such as Chembur (East), Govandi, Deonar, Baiganwadi, Shivaji Nagar, Gautam Nagar and Cheeta Camp, among others. Deonar has one of the biggest dumping grounds in the city.
The Ward has the lowest human development index in the city.
According to officials, over 5 lakh people live in an areas of less than 4 sq km in shanties that are at times even ground plus two structures.
An uphill battle at Dharavi
Within the bustling capital city of the state, Dharavi is easily the biggest ticking time bomb. Asia’s biggest slum has so far reported 47 cases and four deaths.
Given the ground situation in the locality, social distancing doesn’t mean much to the residents. According to health experts, stopping the virus from breaking loose in Dharavi would be key to preventing hospitals in Mumbai from getting overwhelmed.
“We are talking about a slum where 10-12 people live in 10×10 feet tin hutments. You can’t expect them to sit at home all day long,” Vinod Shetty, director at the non-profit Acorn Foundation, told Bloomberg.
A big number of migrant workers are currently sitting idle in the slum and are being provided food by local bodies. The fear now is that as soon as the lockdown is lifted, these migrants will leave for their homes in other states, taking the virus deep inside the hinterlands where medical facilities are scarce.
Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray extended the lockdown till April 30 taking into account the severity of the matter in the state and especially Mumbai where the count has crossed 1,000. The state is at present India’s virus epicentre with almost 2000 cases and half of the national death tally.