Coronavirus Mumbai: BMC adopts Dharavi model to contain COVID-19 in city’s northern suburbs

ST Staff
Thursday, 25 June 2020

Drawing on the lessons learnt during the fight against coronavirus pandemic spread in Dharavi, one of the largest slums in the world, Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) is now implementing a Rapid Action Plan (RAP) for the city’s northern suburbs.  

Mumbai: Drawing on the lessons learnt during the fight against coronavirus pandemic spread in Dharavi, one of the largest slums in the world, Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) is now implementing a Rapid Action Plan (RAP) for the city’s northern suburbs.  

While Mumbai is majorly affected due to pandemic, the COVID-19 hotspots such as Dharavi and Worli have shown significant improvement. Some of the northern suburbs such as Mulund, Bhandup, Malad, Kandivli, Borivli, and Dahisar continue to register high cases daily.

The RAP has been modelled on the lines of the strategy that helped contain the spread in Worli and Dharavi. As part of the plan, BMC has pressed into service 50 mobile fever clinics in ambulances in these areas. 

The mobile clinics drive around through the day with a team of doctors, who carry out door-to-door screening of residents, check for fever and other symptoms, co-morbidities, and collect swabs, if there is any suspected person. 

The steps for elaborate screening include a door-to-door survey of at least 10,000 houses per ward — each community volunteer, equipped with a thermal scanner and a pulse oximeter screens about 100 homes. A massive population of 25 lakh people will be screened in the coming week.

The Dharavi model of foraging public-private partnerships with various civil society organisations is being replicated in the suburbs too. BMC has tied up with local doctors, CREDAI-MCHI, Bharatiya Jain Sanghatan, Desh Apnaye Foundation, who are helping out in providing mobile vans, medicines etc.. At the same time, swab testing, isolation and quarantine facilities are being looked after by BMC.

To speed up testing, Maharashtra Government is also procuring one lakh Rapid Antigen Test kits to screen people across COVID 19 hotspots in Mumbai and Pune. These kits, manufactured by South Korean company SD Biosensor, have been approved by the ICMR (Indian Council of Medical Research), New Delhi.

Rapid Antigen Test – performed on a suspected patient’s nasal swab – detects the presence of viral proteins in the nasal secretion on the swab. The result is available in less than 30 minutes. Although Rapid Antigen kits are less sensitive than regular RT-PCR tests, they present the option of speed, in fighting a pandemic. The quantum of testing per day in Mumbai is set to go up to 6,000 from the present average of 4,000- 4,500. In comparison, Delhi, another city struggling with COVID-19 cases, has been testing more than 15,000 per day.

The Government of India has lauded the BMC’s ‘chase the virus’ strategy by aggressively conducting targeted tracing of COVID suspects.  

The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare in its communication noted that BMC adopted a model of actively following 4Ts – Tracing, Tracking, Testing and Treating. This approach included activities like proactive screening. While 47,500 people were covered by doctors and private clinics in house-to-house screening, about 14,970 people were screened with the help of Mobile Vans, and BMC health workers surveyed 4,76,775 people. 

Fever clinics were set up for high-risk screening category such as senior citizens. This helped to screen 3.6 lakh people. Also, around 8,200 senior citizens were surveyed, and as part of its policy of ‘Timely Separation’, they were separated from the other community to limit the transmission of the disease effectively.

In all, 5,48,270 people have been screened in Dharavi. The suspected cases were shifted to well organised COVID Care Centres and Quarantine Centres. As a result of these measures, the doubling rate in Dharavi has gone beyond 78 days, which is more than twice the doubling of Mumbai.

The centre has been closely co-operating with State governments and local bodies in India’s fight against coronavirus, by devising pre-emptive, pro-active and graded response policy. In this regard, various guidelines, advisories and treatment protocols have been developed and shared with the states to strengthen the collective response towards combating COVID-19.

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