Mumbai's massive Dharavi slum area will be sanitised using fire engines and drones and the State Reserve Police Force (SRPF) will be deployed for effective enforcement of the Coronavirus lockdown, Maharashtra Health Minister Rajesh Tope said on Wednesday. State officials have scrambled in recent days to contain any widespread outbreak of COVID-19 in one of the most crowded areas in the city which reported 17 confirmed cases and three deaths.
Talking to the press, Rajesh Tope said, "Important decisions were taken on Corona Containment Strategy in the cabinet meeting today. The state has reported 1346 cases while in Mumbai there are 746. The growth in this number is concerning. We visited Dharavi on Wednesday and we plan to use technology to contain the outbreak."
In the first mass testing move, Mumbai's municipal body (BMC), on Thursday, has chalked up a plan to test all 7.5 lakh residents in Asia's biggest slum — Dharavi within next 15 days, as per sources.
The minister said Dharavi will be under lockdown with strict enforcement, and to ensure that, SRPF units will be stationed throughout the area. Tope said the fire engines will be used to spray disinfectant on the streets while drones will be used to sanitise congested areas.
He asked the locals to cooperate with the authorities and stay indoors to reduce the chances of COVID-19 transmission. "People should cooperate. Numbers are rising and that is concerning. To reduce this surge, the containment policy will be imposed. Public health is our top priority."
Tope also informed that Maharashtra has ordered one lakh rapid test kits and once it arrives, all frontline healthcare workers will be tested first, following which ordinary people will be tested. He also said that civic authorities will accommodate people living in small houses in public schools in order to ensure social distancing.
"People are facing difficulty in staying home in densely populated areas of Mumbai because as many as 15 people live in a 10×10 feet room. So, we are planning to accommodate them in schools in order to ensure social distancing," the minister said.
Authorities in Mumbai will also use fire engines to sanitise community toilets every hour using jet pumps. "Cleaning community toilets in densely populated areas in Mumbai is a challenge as around 200 people use a toilet seat throughout the day. So, we are deploying fire brigade to sanitize such community toilets every hour with speed jet pumps," Tope said.
In a media bulletin, Maharashtra Public Health Department informed that 229 new COVID-19 cases were reported on Thursday in the state taking the total to 1364. 125 patients have been discharged so far after full recovery. There were 25 deaths on Thursday of which nine were in Mumbai. The total death rate in Mumbai stands at 54, while confirmed cases are 876.