With the number of new COVID-19 cases from Dharavi slum sprawl in Mumbai trickling down to a single digit, the Shiv Sena on Wednesday hailed the "defeat" of the coronavirus as a befitting reply of the party-led government to its critics.
Dharavi, which was once a troublesome coronavirus hotspot, had on Tuesday reported just five new cases, the lowest since April 5. The total number of cases now stands at 2,189.
With the highest population density of 2,27,136 persons per sq. km, Dharavi had 491 cases in April with the growth rate of 12% when the number of cases were doubling every 18 days.
As per an official release, the proactive measures adopted by the BMC brought down the COVID-19 growth rate to 4.3 per centin May and further down to 1.02 per centin June.
These measures also ensured an improved case doubling time to 43 days in May and 78 days in June 2020.
Commenting on the strategy adopted in Dharavi, an edit in the editorial in Sena mouthpiece 'Saamana'.said the BMC administration increased testing and tracing of contacts and also made lockdown rules stricter.
It listed challenges like common toilets, high population density, narrow lanes and crammed neighbourhood, which made it difficult to ensure that people adhere to social distancing norms.
"The BMC adopted a model of actively following four T's Tracing, Tracking, Testing and Treating. This approach included activities like proactive screening.
"While 47,500 people were covered by doctors and private clinics in house-to-house screening, about 14,970 people were screened with the help of mobile vans while 4,76,775 others were surveyed by BMC health workers," the release said.
Fever clinics were set up for screening high risk category such as elderly/senior citizens, which helped to screen 3.6 lakh people, it said.
"About 8,246 senior citizens were surveyed and as part of its policy of 'timely separation', they were separated.
Altogether, 5,48,270 people have been screened in Dharavi. The suspected cases were shifted to well organized COVID Care Centres and Quarantine Centres," the release said.
"However, the war against the virus is not yet over.Cases are rising elsewhere in Maharashtra," it said.
Meanwhile, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation will purchase one lakh antigen testing kits to ensure speedy results for suspected COVID-19 patients, an official said on Wednesday.
According to a release issued on Tuesday, the civic body has initiated Mission Universal Testing, under which it will use ICMR-approved antigen testing kits that provide results within 15 to 30 minutes.
These kits will be used at all civic, state-run hospitals and COVID-19 treatment facilities to test suspected patients and ensure timely treatment, the release stated.
At present, RT-PCR tests are being used to detect infections, but the results of antigen tests will be comparatively faster, the civic body said.
Municipal commissioner I S Chahal has also urged 35 major private hospitals in the city to procure government- approved antigen testing kits and instructed chief executive officers of medical labs about using them.
According to the BMC, in a government resolution dated June 22, the state government has permitted the use of rapid tests.
The civic body has appealed to private companies and corporate houses to buy government-approved kits to test employees to contain the spread of the infection once work resumes following ease in lockdown restrictions, the official said.
Under Mission Universal Testing, the BMC plans to increase the testing capacity from 4,500 to 6,500, the release stated.
Tthe BMC has permitted high-risk contacts of COVID-19 patients, who are home quarantined, to test themselves for the infection using kits from medical laboratories.
It has also allowed senior citizens above 70 years and their helpers to get tested at laboratories without any prescriptions from doctors, it was stated.
Also the Bombay High court has permitted the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to use a private residential building it requisitioned as a quarantine facility, after the civic body gave an undertaking to pay a monthly rent of over Rs 28 lakh for such use.
In an order passed last week, a bench of Justices S J Kathawalla and N R Borkar permitted the BMC to use Neelkamal Realty Tower in Byculla area of Mumbai as a quarantine facility, as long as it paid the rent for the 200-odd tenants of the redevelopment building who are currently staying in transit accommodations.
Neelkamal Realty, a D B group company, had challenged the BMC's power to requisition private buildings and approached the high court, seeking that the civic body's decision to use them as quarantine facility be disallowed.
However, BMC's counsel Anil Sakhre told the high court on previous hearings that the civic body had powers to requisition private buildings under the Epidemic Diseases Act.
The BMC is "allowed to use the subject building for housing individuals required to be kept in quarantine, until further orders are passed by this court," the bench said.