Social Distancing: Corona Hotspot Dharavi Trapped Between A Rock & Hard Place

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Mumbai: Asia’s largest slum, Dharavi is finding it hard to practise social distancing, one of the necessary precautions to fight COVID-19.

With over 60,000 families and 8.5 lakh people residing in an area of 2.4 sq km, the slum could become the largest hotspot of coronavirus in the country; having sparked fears of community transmission.

With 47 total cases of COVID-19 including five deaths, according to police and the health administration, it has indeed become a nightmare for them to enforce the COVID-19 guidelines in the slum as each family has 9-10 members staying inside 10 feet-by-10 rooms.

“The rooms are small, there is no ventilation, it is getting hot, and people come out because they have no option. The toilets are common, one toilet is shared by around 200 people. We try to counsel them, but they are stuck between a rock and a hard place,” a local social worker Shankar Sangam was quoted by the Indian Express as saying.

Ironically, the first COVID-19 positive case of the slum reported on April 1 was linked to Tablighi Jamaat. According to police, the people from Jamaat were invited for a birthday celebration and affected several others in the area.

The spike in the number of cases and deaths in the slum is giving shivers to the administration. “Given how cramped their accommodations are, expecting them to follow social distancing is a joke. A 300-bed isolation facility has been created at the Rajiv Gandhi Sports Complex. We are setting up another 700-bed isolation camp at a municipal school complex. Our focus has been on isolating and testing the high-risk contacts first,” assistant commissioner, G-North ward, Kiran Dighavkar was quoted by the Indian Express as saying.

Besides this, the families too are worried about surviving the lockdown. People in the slums are complaining about the poor planning of the authorities. Many are also of the view that if door-to-door delivery of food is ensured by the state then people will not step out.

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