Covid-19: Dharavi model to be used in Mumbai's suburbs

Dharavi model to limit Covid-19 transmission to be implemented in Mumbai's suburbs

 Volunteers conduct thermal screening at Dharavi, during the ongoing COVID-19 lockdown, in Mumbai. Credit: PTI

Buoyed by the success strategy against fighting coronavirus in Dharavi and Worli, the Maharashtra government and Mumbai's civic body is implementing a comprehensive rapid action plan (RAP) in the suburbs of the financial capital.

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There is a spurt of cases in Mulund and Bhandup along the Central line and Malad, Kandivli,  Borivli and Dahisar on the Western line. The BMC has decided to implement the RAP in these affected areas.

The RAP has been modelled along the lines of the strategy that helped contain the spread in Worli and Dharavi.

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Few days ago,  Mumbai's municipal commissioner Iqbal Singh Chahal launched Mission Zero to bring the pandemic under control. As part of the plan, BMC pressed into service 50 mobile fever clinics in ambulances in these areas.

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

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The steps for elaborate screening include 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 houses.   

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 organizations is being replicated in Mumbai's suburbs too.  

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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, while swab-testing, isolation and quarantine facilities are being looked after by BMC.

In order to speed up testing, the Maharashtra government is also procuring 1 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 but have the advantage 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.

The Government of India lauded the BMC’s ‘Chase-the-Virus’ strategy which was conducted by aggressive and targeted tracing of Covid-19 suspects.  

Ministry of Health & Family Welfare in its communication noted that BMC adopted a model of actively following 4 Ts – 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 4,76,775 were surveyed by BMC health workers. Fever clinics were set up for screening high-risk patients, such as senior citizens. This helped to screen 3.6 lakh people. Around 8,200 Senior Citizens were surveyed and as part of its policy of ‘Timely Separation’, they were separated from the community to effectively limit the transmission of the disease.

In all, 5,48,270 people have been screened in Dharavi.

The suspected cases were shifted to well-organized Covid Care Centres and Quarantine Centres.  As a result of these measures, the doubling rate in Dharavi is now 78 days, which is more than twice the time it takes for the number of Covid-19 cases in Mumbai.