With rising concerns about the new Covid-19 variant Omicron, Dharavi, Asia’s largest slum cluster, will once again start aggressive measures to curb the possible spread of the virus.
On December 10, a 49-year old from Dharavi was found to be infected with Omicron. The patient had arrived from Tanzania and his RT-PCR result was positive, but he was asymptomatic. His sample was then sent for genome sequencing to check for Omicron. As a precautionary measure, he was admitted to Seven Hills Hospital.
Now, with the first case of Omicron from Dharavi, civic authorities have geared up to reintroduce the ‘Dharavi Pattern’ aggressively to keep a check on any rise in daily infection cases. Officials from the G-north ward said that the three key steps – sanitizing public toilets five times in a day, free Covid-19 testing and door-to-door vaccination – will be taken up in the entire Dharavi.
According to BMC officials, there are about 4.6 lakh people above 18 years old in Dharavi. However, with a floating population it reaches up to 8.5 lakh. So far about 50 per cent of the population has been vaccinated. Also, about 80 per cent of the population uses public toilets. There are 450 public toilets in the slum, which is spread across 2.4 sqkm.
“We will focus on sanitizing the public toilets, vaccinating people who are yet to be vaccinated and free Covid testing at various locations. The first case of Omicron has raised some concerns. We will ensure that all necessary steps are taken so that it will not spread further. International passengers arriving from at-risk countries are being tested and kept in institutional quarantine,” said an official from BMC.
In 2020, when the first Covid case was recorded in Dharavi, the BMC had taken immediate steps to ensure the infection does not further spread in the area. With a dense population and small houses, the spread of infection was challenging for the authorities. However, regular sanitizing of public toilets, liberal testing and vaccination proved instrumental in keeping the daily cases in Dharavi in control.