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BMC drafts new strategy for slums; will now test 15 contacts for every positive patient

While the strategy to carry out more tests, track as many as possible and isolate them is an effective way, the BMC poses a dilemma in the form of arranging for medical staff to man these quarantine facilities

BMC drafts new strategy for slums; will now test 15 contacts for every positive patient
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As the number of COVID-19 cases in Mumbai are increasing by day, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has been fine-tuning its plans to curb the spread of the virus. In one such attempt, the BMC has made a change in its contact-tracing programme and accordingly, will now quarantine up to 15 high-risk contacts from the slums. Earlier, the civic body would only quarantine up to five contacts.

This would mean that the number of people being tested will increase drastically but BMC Commissioner Iqbal Chahal on Monday during a meeting with his health staff and assistant municipal commissioners (ward officers) told them to not worry about the increasing number of cases as long as deaths due to COVID-19 could be prevented.

During the meeting, it was also decided that they should also test and place people visiting local civic clinics with fever and other symptoms of coronavirus in COVID care centres until their results arrive after some days.

As per the civic officials, as thousands of beds have been set up in quarantine facilities in every ward, more people residing in slums can be moved there as they cannot maintain physical distancing in their cramped houses. The civic body, at present, has 25,000 beds in COVID care centres for untested asymptomatic patients whereas another 35,000 quarantine beds in COVID care centre 2 set aside for positive asymptomatic patients.

While the strategy to carry out more tests, track as many as possible and isolate them is an effective way, the BMC poses a dilemma in the form of arranging for medical staff to man these quarantine facilities. The new plan is also set to increase the workload for the civic body as they will have to make necessary arrangements such as providing beds, health staff and food for the suspected patients.

The city slums are at present, the biggest challenge for the BMC as social distancing is nearly impossible in the congested areas and the cases have been rapidly multiplying there. According to officials, the major source of transmission is a common toilet.

Of the total COVID-19 cases in the city, 70 per cent are from the slum pockets. The wards with the biggest slum pockets, i.e. G-North (Dharavi) and F-North (Antop Hill) are currently leading in terms of numbers.

Meanwhile, Dharavi, on Monday, recorded 42 fresh cases and the total tally of coronavirus cases in the area rose to 1,583.

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