Hope in Dharavi: cases double in less time

Cases double every 21 days now; BMC says screening, testing has led to improvement

Published - May 25, 2020 01:37 am IST - Mumbai

Dharavi has shown signs of improvement, with COVID-19 positive cases now doubling every 21 days. The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has attributed this to aggressive screening and testing from the area, that has seen 1,541 cases so far.

Dharavi reported its first case on April 1, and in the first half of the month, the doubling rate was three days.

Mortality rate

Dharavi’s mortality rate, around 4%, is the same as the rest of the city. Of the 1,448 cases analysed, 24% were from within the same family, underscoring the challenge of physical distancing in Asia’s largest slum.

On May 6, Dharavi had 733 cases. In barely a fortnight, the number of cases nearly doubled to 1,425. On Sunday, Dharavi reported 27 new cases, pushing the total to 1,541. Two earlier deaths were added to Dharavi’s tally, pushing it to 60. However, the death audit committee is yet to give its final word on this. G North ward, of which Dharavi is a part, has an average case growth rate of 5.1%, one of the least in Mumbai right now.

An area’s doubling rate is calculated on several parameters including the number of tests conducted, an area’s population, and total cases. Dharavi has seen a better doubling rate on certain days and a poorer one in the earliest weeks of the pandemic. Since the number of days on which cases double varies, a seven-day average is taken into account. The current average for Dharavi has dipped to 30 days due to fewer cases between May 18 and 20.

Positive trend

Dharavi’s doubling rate on Sunday stood at 21, while for Mumbai it stood at 11.

“Our doubling rate is showing a positive trend because of the mass screening of citizens we started in the very first week. We have conducted more than 6,000 tests so far, of which we found 1,541 positive cases. The testing is done at multiple levels, and includes private doctors. We have also placed more than 6,300 people under institutional quarantine,” said Kiran Dighavkar, assistant municipal commissioner of G North ward.

Of the 1,448 cases reported up to May 22, 207 were from Matunga Labour Camp alone. The second highest number is from Kumbharwada (100), followed by Mukund Nagar (73). The BMC has attributed this to the highest amount of testing being done at the Labour Camp. Most cases in Dharavi are in the 31-40-year age group while most deaths are of those above 50 years. Of the total cases, 24% were from the same family.

“Physical distancing and maintaining hygiene cannot be expected in a place like Dharavi. By the time a person is tested positive, he would have lived in close contact with his family, which is why prevalence among families is very high,” said a senior civic official.

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