Coronavirus finds its way into Mumbai slums

10 test positive in M East ward; officials find contact-tracing tough

Updated - March 28, 2020 01:15 pm IST

Published - March 28, 2020 12:29 am IST - Mumbai

Uphill task: Civic workers sanitise Ghatkopar Mankhurd Link Road on Friday.

Uphill task: Civic workers sanitise Ghatkopar Mankhurd Link Road on Friday.

The city is facing a stiff challenge in its fight against COVID-19 with the virus entering densely populated slums and chawls where social distancing is impractical.

M East ward, known for its poor socio-economic conditions , has reported 10 positive cases. The civic officials are now facing an uphill task of tracking their contact history in the cramped area. It comprises Govandhi, Deonar, Baiganwadi, Mankhurd, Shivaji Nagar, Cheetah Camp and a part of Chembur.

A 48-year-old cleric from Baiganwadi in Govandi was the first to test positive on March 23. He had travelled to Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia and Sri Lanka. Besides his daily interactions at a local mosque, which has now been sealed, he had offered namaz at Lotus Colony, where one person later tested positive for COVID-19.

Residents of Srikrishna Nagar slum in Wadala tread with caution.

Residents of Srikrishna Nagar slum in Wadala tread with caution.

In another case reported from Cheetah Camp, a man who returned from Dubai tested positive. His wife’s sample returned negative and she is now under home quarantine. The sample of a 65-year-old woman from Plot no. 10 in Govandi, who died of severe complications on Thursday, also tested positive. Of the 10 cases, some are close contacts of patients with a travel history. In one case, the patient’s travel history or contact has not yet been established.

‘Lockdown ineffective’

A civic official said the houses in chawls are located close to each other and the huge population results in a positive patient coming into contact with a large number of people. A local resident of Govandi said though there is concern over the rise in cases, the lockdown has not been effective in the area. He said, “Everyone is seen sitting outside in groups. No one is paying heed to the police’s constant announcements to stay indoors.”


Local MLA Abu Azmi said he had enlisted volunteers to go around in autorickshaws and make announcements urging people to stay at home. He said, “Everything is being done, but it’s still difficult to keep people inside their homes. The poorest in the area have large families and small houses.”

In Jambhlipada slum in Kalina, a man who returned from Italy tested positive and a local doctor he had consulted also tested positive this week. As of Friday, the civic health officials have sent 57 people for testing, including close contacts of the man who returned from Italy and the doctor who has a thriving practice in the area. Though the man consulted the doctor on March 19, the doctor continued to see patients till March 23. He also visited a small hospital in the area where he attended to patients. Local corporator Tulip Miranda is now taking steps to spread awareness of the disease in the area.

Caterer dies

G South ward has reported the death of a 65-year-old woman who provided food to employees of corporate houses and had tested positive. Ten contacts of the woman, a resident of a chawl near Elphinstone bridge, have been sent for testing.

A domestic help from the eastern suburbs and a house help from the western suburbs, both residents of chawls, have tested positive.


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