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In Mumbai, 90% cases of Covid in non-slums, high rises or buildings

High rises and other buildings continue to report bulk of the Covid-19 cases in India’s business capital Mumbai, according to the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC). Mumbai has about 87,000 active cases, of which over 90 per cent are concentrated in high rise buildings while slums account for just 10 per cent.

Latest data compiled by BMC shows that non-slum areas comprising mainly high rises and standalone buildings, have 79,032 active cases. Slums, on the other hand, have only 8,411 out of total 87,443 active cases, as on April 16.

Analysts tracking the geographic spread of Covid-19 in the city, said the rapid rise in Mumbai will likely be followed by a sharp fall too. A sharp increase in cases in high rises and standalone buildings, along with a concerted vaccination drive, can result in a faster build-up in seroprevalence, said Neelkant Mishra of Credit Suisse, in his analysis of the sharp rise in Covid cases in the second wave.

In July 2020, the results of the first serosurvey showed seroprevalence in slums stood at 57 per cent compared with 16 per cent in non-slums. In August, a second survey, however, showed that seroprevalence was lower at 45 per cent in slums, and rose marginally to 18 per cent for non-slums.

In the first wave, slums were worst affected. For example, in June 2020, of the total Covid cases in the city, almost two-thirds were reported from slums and chawls, which have high population density. And 42 lakh people in slums were in containment zones compared with 8 lakh residing in buildings.

The different contours of the geographical spread has also prompted the BMC to revise its SOPs. On April 5, Municipal Commissioner I S Chahal issued a new standard operating procedure (SOP) to declare housing societies as micro containment zones if they had more than five active cases. Now housing society office bearers are tasked with ensuring that Covid-19 guidelines are followed.

The BMC data shows the highest number of 273 sealed buildings or micro containment zones are in K-west ward (Andheri, Jogeshwari), followed by 247 in D-ward (Malabar Hill, Grant Road) and 147 in F-south ward (Parel, Seweree). Majority of the population in these areas lives in high-rise buildings. While 1,169 buildings are currently sealed, the number of sealed floors has also increased to 10,797 across Mumbai. Over 20 lakh people are in micro containment zones and sealed floors.

“Following the high number of cases in buildings, the BMC officials are keeping a check on violations. An FIR was recently filed against residents of buildings after it was found that they were roaming outside despite being tested Covid positive,” said an official from BMC.

Assistant Municipal Commissioner, D ward, Prashant Gaikwad said he had to take meetings with housing societies before implementing micro containment zone rules. “There was a lot of confusion in housing societies as under the new rule, society office bearers have been given the responsibility to ensure guidelines are followed. I interacted with housing societies via zoom link to clear their confusion,” Gaikwad.

Mumbai is witnessing a surge in daily cases. In January and February, the city reported around 23,000 new cases a day, but in March, it recorded close to even 9,000 cases a day.


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