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  • How a packed slum in Mumbai beat back the coronavirus, as India’s cases continue to soar

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How a packed slum in Mumbai beat back the coronavirus, as India’s cases continue to soar

Source(s):  Washington Post, the

By Niha Masih

Dharavi’s unexpected turnaround is credited to customized solutions and strong community engagement.


India is third behind the United States and Brazil in confirmed coronavirus infections, but its new cases are climbing at the fastest rate in the world, according to Bloomberg News. For Dharavi to turn a corner in the midst of this crisis is a noteworthy story of customized solutions, community involvement and perseverance.


The odds were stacked against Dharavi, one of Asia’s largest slums. Mumbai had emerged as the country’s coronavirus epicenter. Hospitals were overwhelmed, and in mid-June, 99 percent of the city’s intensive care beds were occupied.

About 1 million people are packed into Dharavi’s one-square-mile area. Most residents depend on community toilets used by thousands every day. India’s strict lockdown, first imposed in late March, left tens of thousands of the slum’s daily-wage residents on the verge of destitution. The situation made conventional solutions such as social distancing and contact tracing impossible to enforce.


Within 10 days, 47,000 people had been screened, and 400 symptomatic people were tested for the virus, with 20 percent turning out to be positive. An additional 4,000 people, including contacts and those with co-morbidities, were placed in institutional quarantine.

Health-care camps were set up in prominent locations in the slum where people could walk in and get a free virus test. Officials urged dozens of private clinics in the area to remain open so more cases could be detected. In turn, the government provided them with protective gear and daily sanitization.


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  • Publication date 31 Jul 2020

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