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Home Stories How Dharavi - Asia’s Largest Slum, Controlled the Spread of Coronavirus?

How Dharavi – Asia’s Largest Slum, Controlled the Spread of Coronavirus?

“It always seems impossible until it is done.”

When Dharavi spotted the first COVID-19 case on 1st April 2020, the government thought it was nearly impossible to save Dharavi from the spread of coronavirus due to overpopulation in Dharavi. But to the surprise, Dharavi has effectively controlled the spread of the virus by July 2020. It should be appreciated that Mumbai’s Dharavi, has come a long way in fighting against the pandemic and has witnessed a massive decline in COVID-19 cases.

Nearly 12.3 million COVID-19 cases have been registered across the world. Among which Dharavi was also once the COVID-19 hotspot. Today the spread of COVID-19 cases has been persuasively brought to control in Dharavi. This is definitely a great victory, that too in an over-crowded area. Dharavi’s success in restraining the virus spread gives a hope that the other parts in the world shall also heal soon.

The WHO (World Health Organisation) chief, Dr.Tedros Adhanom has acknowledged on Dharavi’s success in controlling the virus spread and also he stated that “Dharavi should be seen as an example across the world.”

About Dharavi And Corona Virus Spread:

Dharavi is a slum in Mumbai, Maharastra. It is a home to nearly 8 lakh people and all are living very close to each other and the area always seems to be crowded. The total area of Dharavi is just 2.16 square kilometers. Dharavi is known as Asia’s largest slum and it is one of the densely populated area in the world. Due to its geography, poor sewage facilities and improper drainage systems, Dharavi becomes vulnerable during the rainy season. The place has severe sanitation issues and around 80% of the population depend on community toilets. It is quite worrisome to know that there is only an average of 1 toilet per 500 people in Dharavi. Thus, lack of lavatories is a major issue in Dharavi especially during the times of coronavirus pandemic.

In May 2020, Dharavi inscribed a total of 1216 COVID-19 cases and 56 deaths. Dharavi recorded an average of 18 new cases daily in the month of June. However, in July Dharavi managed to significantly flatten the curve. Totally, as on July 10th 2020 Dharavi witnesses 2359 COVID-19 cases out which 1952 recovered cases has been reported.

Dharavi of Mumbai has witnessed numerous epidemics and other disasters, including a widespread plague in 1896 which killed more than half of the population of Mumbai. Nevertheless, Dharavi stood strong in the coronavirus pandemic times and successfully cured the virus spread.

What Were the Dharavi’s Control Strategies?

“The poor can dream. The weak can hope. The helpless can strive. The powerless can rise.” As the quote suggests, despite being poor, weak, helpless and powerless Dharavi fought and succeeded in winning the battle against the dangerous coronavirus pandemic.

Screening, containment, and mitigation strategies were effectively considered in Dharavi and thereby Dharavi achieved a massive success in crushing the virus spread. Enforcing a strict lockdown and blocking the movement of residents except for essential services, seems to have helped greatly in controlling the virus spread and in recent days the COVID-19 cases are relatively low. Dharavi has also achieved a great recovery rate.

The Maharashtra government has alerted the medical staff to take carry on the immediate COVID-19 testing strategy in Dharavi. Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM) ensured proper sanitation of the streets of Dharavi frequently. The launch of intense screening and sanitation drive had a great impact in flattening the curves. The Maharashtra government took special care on Dharavi’s heel from the virus because there was a great chance of quick spread in that area. Though the Maharashtra government has forcefully controlled the COVID-19 pandemic, it failed to control the spread in other parts of Maharashtra. The people in Dharavi also co-operated very well towards the control of virus pandemic. Despite the government’s support the people co-operation is very much mandatory to achieve this success in blocking the virus growth. The public in Dharavi showed their responsibility and co-operation by closing the small shops, farmer’s marker, and vendor units which can avoid the people gathering. Because of this pandemic, the livelihood of the daily wage worker had been affected to a great extent. The government also made sure that these daily wage workers get groceries and other provisions at free of cost. The coronavirus relief fund also played a major role in setting up facilities at Dharavi. PM CARES fund also immensely helped in collecting funds across India. Also, PM CARES fund system has opened international donations in recent days. Similarly, each state has separate chief minister’s funding system for donating towards COVID-19 relief.

The government made incredible quarantine facilities in Dharavi. These facilities paved a way to stop the virus spread. The government arranged facilities like,

1. Community Kitchen which provided breakfast, lunch and dinner,

2. 24*7 availability doctors, nurses, and medical staff for immediate treatments.

3. Availability of medicines, multivitamins, masks, and sanitizer.

4. Essential medical equipment to treat the virus attack.

Since home quarantine was nearly impossible in Dharavi, the available schools, colleges, marriage halls, sports stadiums, hostel rooms near Dharavi were converted into quarantine centers. Private organizations largely contributed their properties for this quarantine centers. Instant medical facilities were effectively made available to the victims at these quarantine centers. Also, the victims were given proper nutrition in their meals to boost their immunity power. Proper medication consumed by the victims was also monitors by medical staff. These are the steps taken in Dharavi by the government which created a huge impact in Dharavi. Thereby, saving Dharavi from the spread of the threatening virus. There was no compromise in Dharavi’s health infrastructure. Apart from this, private hospitals were also actively participating in this battle against coronavirus. A 200-bed in almost every hospital near Dharavi was set up to observe a 14 days isolation with proper medications. If Dharavi continues at control the coronavirus pandemic at the same phase, it will soon be free from the dangerous virus spread.

A strong focus on the basics of COVID-19 preventive measures like testing, tracing, isolating, and treating the sick people were the measures taken by the government to suppress the coronavirus spread. Also, these preventive measures were taken continuously and effectively to stop the growth of deadly virus in the Dharavi region of Mumbai.

Hope This Ends Soon …

The World Health Organization is continuously giving us hope that it is still possible to bring coronavirus outbreaks under control, even though the number of COVID-19 cases has enormously increased. Honestly, social distancing is the most significant weapon against the virus transmission. There are lot of examples like Dharavi, New Zealand, Tanzania, Iceland, Fiji, Mauritius that have controlled the spread of coronavirus effectively. These places prove that the coronavirus is not going to be permanent and it can be eradicated with some forceful measures. There are plenty of useful resources on internet that can help us to understand the coronavirus pandemic better and protect us from the virus pandemic. Aggressive action along with virtual unity can lead to termination of the coronavirus pandemic. Let us hope for the best change waiting ahead.

Let’s hope the chain of transmission breaks soon.

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