By Quaid Najmi
Mumbai, Dec 25 (IANS) In what could be termed a “Christmas present” for the BMC, Asia’s largest slum Dharavi notched zero cases on Friday – first time since the Covid-19 pandemic appeared in the congested settlement on April 1, health officials said.
At one point, it ranked as the worst hotspot and the most worrisome for the health authorities, but Dharavi now has a mere 12 active cases currently under treatment in local hospitals.
“We salute the people of Dharavi for their full cooperation, following the BMC’s SOPs and other health guidelines that has helped immensely,” an elated BMC Municipal Commissioner I.S. Chahal told IANS.
“This is a major progress and achievement since the first case and death was reported from Dharavi on April 1. All our efforts to control the pandemic here have yielded fruitful results. Nevertheless, our vigil continues,” said a local BMC Ward official, requesting anonymity.
Till date, Dharavi has notched a total 3,788 cases, – compared with Mumbai’s 289,800 – and just 12 active cases vis-a-vis the city’s current total of 20,128.
After a quiet entry into Dharavi on April 1, the locality attracted national and even global attention as cases continued to soar in April-May-June, posing a huge challenge for the BMC and the Maharashtra government.
As the state and civic administrations girdled their loins to tackle the Covid-19 onslaught by implementing the ‘Dharavi Model’, it yielded rich dividends and by the third week of June, the 2.25 square km neighbourhood was already off the ‘Corona critical’ list.
As Dharavi’s success spread cheer, the World Health Organisation, the World Bank, and the Centre praised the successful efforts while the Philippines announced that it would implement a similar model to control the contagion in the less affluent districts of Manila.
At that time, a pleased Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray proudly observed that “Dharavi has now emerged as a global role-model in tackling the Coronavirus pandemic”.
For the area housing nearly a million souls living or working in the heart of south-central Mumbai, the BMC had deployed the 4-Ts strategy – Tracing, Tracking, Testing and Treating – to combat the scourge.
Later, it followed up by an innovative ‘Chase The Virus’ initiative in which for every single patient detected, 15 of his/her close contacts were also quarantined.
Other precautionary measures included medicines distributed to all the frontline health care and health security workers, opening a fully-equipped new institutional quarantine facility, senior citizens shifted to various BMC-run hospitals for treatment and door-to-door health checks.
With sterling results in its cap, the BMC started withdrawing from Dharavi, scaling or shutting down the facilities here by June-end, and the local businesses slowly started coming back to life and started limping back towards normalcy by August-September.
Meanwhile, the rest of Maharashtra continued to cause worries with a total of 19,13,382 total cases till date, including 3,431 added on Friday, and the state death increased by 71 to touch 49,129 – both figures highest in the country.
(Quaid Najmi can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org)
By Quaid Najmi