GENEVA: The World Health Organisation (WHO) on Friday praised the efforts put in to break the chain of the novel coronavirus in the “densely packed area in the megacity of Mumbai”, Dharavi, among other countries.
Taking examples of Italy, Spain, South Korea and even Dharavi as examples, WHO Chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that however “intense” the outburst was in some countries, the coronavirus could still be tracked down by taking aggressive action. These countries faced a lot of cases of coronavirus and many people died despite that they have regulated the spread of the virus very well.
“In the last six weeks, cases have been more than doubled,” Tedros told a virtual press conference in Geneva. However, “there are many examples from around the world that have shown that even if the outbreak is very intense, it can still be brought back under control,” said Tedros.
“Some of these examples are Italy, Spain and South Korea, and even in Dharavi – a densely packed area in the megacity of Mumbai – a strong focus on community engagement and the basics of testing, tracing, isolating and treating all those that are sick is key to breaking the chains of transmission and suppressing the virus,” Tedros said.
Tedros said these statements when, Mike Ryan, head of WHO emergencies programme said that it is not that easy to eliminate the novel coronavirus, to avoid future flare-ups of the disease, countries would have to act quickly after coming out of lockdowns.
Also, Maria Van Kerkhove, technical lead on the Covid-19 pandemic at the WHO, said that airborne transmission of the new coronavirus had always been a concern but that droplets appeared to be the most common infection route.
The centre also praised Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), for “actively” chasing the novel coronavirus in Dharavi, stating protective measures decreased the growth rate of the infection in Asia’s largest slum to 1.02 per cent in June from 12 per cent in April. The Union Health Ministry praised the BMC for ensuring a steep decline of daily Covid-19 cases in Dharavi from an average of 43 in May to 19 in the third week of June.
CHALLENGE IN DHARAVI
BMC faced various challenges in Dharavi, where 80% of people depend on community toilets. People living in hutments that measure 10/10 feet with 9-10 family members each, with two- three-storey houses were often the ground floor is a house and other floors are used as factories, the statement said.
Strategy by BMC in Dharavi
“Being densely populated (2,27,136 persons/sq km), Dharavi had 491 cases in April 2020 with a 12 per cent growth rate and a case doubling period of 18 days,” it said. “The proactive measures adopted by BMC reduced the Covid-19 growth rate to 4.3 per cent in May 2020 and further to 1.02 per cent in June,” the Centre had said earlier.
BMC implemented a process that included the four T’s – tracing, tracking, testing and treating, the ministry said. This process included activities like proactive screening and while 47,500 people were covered by doctors and private clinics in house-to- house screening, about 14,970 people were screened with the help of mobile vans, and 4,76,775 were surveyed by BMC health workers.
“Fever clinics were set up for screening high-risk categories such as elderly/senior citizens. This helped to screen 3.6 lakh people. Also, around 8246 senior citizens were surveyed and as part of its policy of ‘timely separation’, they were separated from the other community to effectively limit the transmission of the disease,” the ministry said.
To implement proactive screening in higher-risk zones, the BMC forged strategic public-private partnerships in containment measures and all available ‘private’ practitioners were mobilised, the ministry had said.
“BMC provided the private doctors with PPE Kits, thermal scanners, pulse Oxymeters, masks and gloves and started door-to-door screening in high- risk zones and all suspects were identified,” it said.
The home quarantine was not effective in such congested area so to get the desired outcomes institutional quarantine facilities were created in all available schools, marriage halls, sports complexes, etc, the ministry had said