he lockdown is extended in Maharashtra for fourth time because COVID-19 cases are on rise in Mumbai. Mumbai’s population density has reached extreme levels and this is a likely environment for the virus to spread. Mumbai is an oldest city, port and one of the historic economic centers of India. A lot of infrastructure in Mumbai is old and barely keeps up with the nearly 25 million population. Renovated roads, bridges and buildings from the British era are still in use. There are many factors that contribute to Mumbai being the Corona capital of India. There are multiple clusters in Mumbai housing, thousands of people living is miserable conditions, many of them are overcrowded in single room, shanties cheek by jowl with single toilet serving about fifty shanties. Such living conditions force people to be close to each other as there is no other choice and undoubtedly spread coronavirus. Social fabric of Mumbai is quite complex when compared to other cities of India. Under circumstances like these, solution defies conventional approach. Secondly a large population has its own different social strata and large mass to carry with. Any change in this situation will face many ups and downs. It’s like changing movement direction of a large voluminous weight. Mumbai has a very high percentage of homes and offices which are air-conditioned and in multi-story apartments where use of a lift is almost compulsory. Both these parameters viz air-conditioning and lift usage are hunting grounds for spreading coronavirus. Another major contributor is the hospitals which again share these characteristics further contributing to the high incidence of coronavirus in Mumbai.
Mumbai has been milked like a cow for several decades by a small upper class that comprises of less than 5% of the city. Some of them are the richest people on the planet, but over 40% of the city’s population lives in stuffed and unhygienic slums. This ridiculous disparity forces many poorer people to crowd together in small living spaces. It does not have to be said that these people do not have access to any good quality healthcare. Meanwhile, as the migrants came on the road in thousands of numbers, basic tests are yet not done. Meanwhile the liquor shops opening was another curse. Crowd gathering is just impossible in slums and chawls and also on the streets, 60 percent of Mumbai was on street and side gullies during lockdown, so how one can assure the control on rising cases? Even hospitals are not safe, first of all they don’t give easy admissions to patients, second thing is that even if they give admission in hospital, they will not guarantee hygiene or favourable conditions. In Mumbai’s Sion hospital patients lie next to corpses. On one bed quarantined dead bodies are kept and other bed the COVID-19 patient is admitted, now how one can imagine balance?
Mumbai’s civic body, the BMC, is one of the richest municipal corporations in Asia, but their corruption and inefficiency is probably worse than the governments of some banana republics. There is no official record of the funds they have misappropriated, but it is easily in the tens of billions of dollars. The city suffers as a result with poor civic planning, poor drainage system and a higher health risk for the population. Once again, an ideal place for a contagious disease to spread. Mumbai is very humid and the extremely high density of population means that a lot of bacteria and other organisms are able to thrive. Only the relatively rich can shield themselves from community infections. The rest of the population is left exposed. Being the financial heart of the country, Mumbai has a lot of people travelling in and out of the country and this further increases the risk of infections. Moreover, the PM sponsored event of stadium launch has really put the city in miserable conditions due to thousands of attendees coming across the world but no one was put through medical examination. The first case of Corona virus detected in Gujarat was in January 2020 and the stadium inauguration event was held in February, in the same Gujarat state. Mumbai is a travel hub and, in a way, it’s an important gateway, people land here and go to nearby areas such as Gujarat, Goa, Rajasthan etc. No other city in India has such a large population living under such extreme conditions, and that’s why the virus is spreading much faster here. The nationwide tally of confirmed COVID-19 cases crossed the 50,000 mark with a large number of healthcare professionals and security personnel testing positive amid the worsening spread of the deadly virus while authorities also flagged high fatality rate in states like Maharashtra, West Bengal and Gujarat. Maharashtra has multiple international gateways; with five international airports at Mumbai, Pune, Shirdi, Aurangabad and Nagpur. Apart from this, the state also has a seaport in Mumbai. The global exposure is more in Maharashtra. With 26,357 persons per square kilometre, the state’s capital Mumbai is the world’s second-most densely populated city. With all these points, it is quite obvious that the pace of infection and spread will be more in Mumbai. Currently 75 districts including the whole of Maharashtra are under lockdown mode. The state govt is taking all the possible precautionary measures to stop the further spread. Five new coronavirus positive cases emerged in Mumbai’s Dharavi, bringing the total number of cases in that area to 13. Authorities today banned all vegetable or fruit markets, hawkers & sellers in containment area/buffer zone in Dharavi. Only pharmacies in the area were allowed to remain open. As the number of cases rise rapidly in the city, authorities made it compulsory to wear face masks in Mumbai when in public areas. Mumbai was the first city in India to implement such a rule. Maharashtra classified containment zones as simple zones (with one case) and cluster containment zones (with 3-5 cases) and creating a buffer zone around these containment zones. Restrictions were implemented in these zones to prevent the virus spread.
The total number of coronavirus cases in the country climbed to 5,734. The death toll increased to 166 and more than 400 cases were confirmed in the last 24 hours. India is currently under a 21-day nationwide lockdown till April 14. The lockdown may be extended considering the coronavirus outbreak in the country. The BMC however has stated that the increased number of cases can be attributed to the higher level of testing. Late detection of the coronavirus positive cases may have led to the spread especially in tightly packed areas, especially in Dharavi, one of the largest slums in Asia. People with other ailments who had come to hospitals and later tested positive for coronavirus could have transmitted it to healthcare workers and other people which in turn has led to a community spread but in spite of the lockdown in Maharashtra people are breaking the laws and stepping outside making containment literally difficult. In such circumstances, even God will ask for extended lockdown and we people need to learn to live with it.
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