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Mumbai slums free of Covid-19 containment zones

The city is completely free of containment zones in its slums. The last two slums that were under containment at K-East ward, which covers Andheri East, were released on Friday. Meanwhile, there are still 30 micro containment zones in non-slum pockets of the city. This again establishes the fact that non-slums areas are the main source of Covid-19 infection in the city. Meanwhile, amid Covid-19 cases declining in the state, the lockdown will ease from Sunday onwards. Restaurant owners can extend business hours till 10pm, while shopping malls will be open to the public. Further, fully vaccinated citizens will be allowed to travel in suburban trains in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR). Private offices can function round-the-clock at full strength, while restrictions on people attending weddings have been relaxed.

Containment zones are places where positive cases have been detected and that surrounding area have been sealed to protect everyone inside and outside from further spread. When the second wave started from the middle of February, the city had 54 active containment zones in slums. This increased to around 80 by the end of April when the pandemic curve was at its peak. However, this number is far less than compared to the first wave. In May last year, over 650 slums were under containment zones where movement of the dwellers were strictly regulated.

With a steady decline in Covid-19 cases, the last two containment zones at K-East ward have been released. ‘We had two slums under containment zones which have been released. For the first time this year, we don’t have any containment zones,’ said Prashant Sapkale, ward officer of K-East.

Since the outbreak of the pandemic last year, nearly 2,800 containment zones in slums have been released in the city. Meanwhile, the city has 30 sealed buildings, with five or more cases which are also referred to as micro containment zones. These are spread across 10 wards, out of 24 wards, with the highest in K-West (Andheri, Jogeshwari).

If there are fewer than five Covid-19 cases in a building, then the floors of the building where the active Covid-19 patients are identified are sealed by the civic body. As per BMC data, there are around 1,300 sealed floors in separate buildings across the city.

More than 50% (6,534,460) of Mumbai’s total population of 12,442,373 (as per 2011 census) resides in slum areas, making the inhabitants vulnerable to contracting the infection owing to their poor and unhygienic living conditions. But as the BMC figure shows, non-slums residents were the major contributors of the second wave. ‘We have conducted ward-wise studies in the second wave which showed that 90% of the cases are from residential buildings. There can be several contributing factors like high sero prevalence in slums as shown in sero surveys,’ said Suresh Kakani, additional commissioner, BMC.

The Covid-19 containment proactive strategies not only helped BMC in controlling cases in slums, but their ‘Dharavi model’ also bagged them national fame and appreciation.

Through door-to-door surveys at slums, BMC created a health map that helped diagnose Covid-19 patients faster and maintain a record of high-risk patients who were immediately isolated in Covid Care Centres (CCC).

‘We followed three strategies in slums— test, isolate and treat. Other than RT-PCR (reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction), we have been conducting rapid antigen tests on the floating crowds in slums,’ added Kakani.

At present, the average growth rate of the last seven days stands at 0.04%.

Coming to the ease in lockdown, state surveillance officer Dr Pradeep Awate said people need to take adequate precautions, while facilities are opening up. ‘The easing is being done to facilitate the economic cycle and all precautions should be taken to curtail the Covid-19 transmission rates. If people let their guard down and don’t adhere to Covid-19 appropriate behaviour, then we are in trouble again due to the impending third wave,’ he warned.

The second wave this year was more severe than last year’s first wave as it infected more people and caused more deaths than the first one. This resulted in lockdown. As the state opened up, all shopkeepers and restaurant owners were allowed to function till 4pm only. On August 3, only shopkeepers were allowed to function till 10pm while restaurants were not given any relief. This resulted in anger among the hoteliers who protested to chief minister Uddhav Thackeray. Now the state has also extended their timings till 10pm.

Romi Chaddha, director of the Cosmic Group, which has four hotels in Mumbai, said they would be opening three of their outlets on Sunday. ‘We are taking all precautions as it is not just our consumers but it even our health is at stake due to this pandemic,’ said Chaddha.

, those visiting shopping malls will also have to carry the final vaccination certificate,

Private offices whose employees are fully vaccinated have been allowed to keep their offices functional 24X7, but they have to stagger the work hours and keep 25 per cent strength at one time.

Gymnasiums, parlours and salons in the state will be allowed to open with 50 per cent capacity. The spas and gymnasiums will be allowed to function till 10pm, The government has allowed weddings in open place with a cap of 200 people. In case the venue is a closed hall, the number has been limited to 100 or 50 per cent capacity of the venue, whichever is less.

Indoor games have been allowed till 10pm provided everyone is fully vaccinated.

BMC officials say that in view of the shortage of vaccines, they will allow employees of the shops to work only if they have taken at least on vaccine dose. However the owners should ensure that the employee also takes the second one.

Maharashtra on Saturday recorded 5,787 Covid-19 new cases with 134 deaths. Mumbai’s tally of new cases was 265 with 6 deaths, thus bringing its total death toll to 15977.

The total number of Covid-19 patients right from the outbreak last year has now reached 63,87,863.

There were 2,14,215 tests done on Saturday while the number of recoveries clocked 5352.

The total number of active patients in Maharashtra currently stands at 63,262, while the total number of deaths right from the Covid-19 outbreak has now reached 1,34,909. There are currently 63,262 active patients across the state, of which Pune tops with 14,738 patients, followed by Satara with 7295 active patients and Sangli with 6,591.

The death toll has now reached 134,909, with Pune leading with 18,727 deaths, followed by Mumbai with 15,977 and Thane with 11,142.

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