Clear answers are the antidote to COVID-19 confusion

Updated: Jul 02, 2020, 07:52 IST | Hemal Ashar | Mumbai

An interactive session with Additional Municipal Commissioner Suresh Kakani proves a bridge between authorities and citizens

Suresh Kakani, additional municipal commissioner
Suresh Kakani, additional municipal commissioner

People's voice was given a platform by VCAN, which stands for V Citizens Action Network, a city charitable trust concentrating on social and civic issues and providing a link between citizens and government authorities. The VCAN held a digital social sanchar or meet between citizens and Additional Municipal Commissioner (AMC) Suresh Kakani on 'The Covid Monsoon Season and Your Safety' late Tuesday evening.

Death rates
The meet, anchored by chairperson Indrani Malkani, opened with Kakani observing that the city was seeing a shift from a large number of cases in slum pockets to those in high-rises. "Our focus now is to bring down death rates. We are working on a programme called 'Save the Patient'. We are striving towards lessening the time gap in providing treatment to patients and addressing the issue of lives lost because of time wasted."

He added that not just neighbouring states, those like New Delhi were following the model set in Mumbai. "Initially, we got a lot of criticism for Dharavi, but we deployed teams that could trace high-risk contacts of Dharavi locals and isolate them. That is how we brought the numbers down," he added.

Monsoon battle
Having said that, Kakani cautioned, "We are not excited by praise. We are fully aware that the behaviour of this virus is abnormal, we have a long battle ahead of us."

The commissioner addressed the monsoon query saying, "Our vector control teams have been activated. We are doing extensive fogging in certain areas and mosquito control. Currently, the cases of malaria, leptospirosis and dengue are 50 per cent less than last year, but the rains has been erratic as of now, let us see what happens. Fogging is a very effective support to the entire system designed to tackle monsoon-related diseases. It may not be completely foolproof, but it is highly efficacious."

Domestic help
In the interactive session, the commissioner was also asked whether domestic help should be allowed in housing societies.

Kakani said, "This is top of the mind right now. Domestic help can be allowed in homes but what housing societies could do is to have thermal guns for temperature checks. Before the help enters homes, they should wash their hands thoroughly. Keep a sanitiser bottle at the building entrance. Provide masks to the help and ensure they wear them. Common points in the building like lift buttons and staircase handrails have to be properly sanitised."

Sanitising sense
To another question about common toilets in high-rises, the commissioner said some buildings were not sanitising common toilets well enough. "The regular cleaning staff of a society can do the work. The toilets need to be sanitised at least three to four times a day."

To questions about plumbers, electricians, workmen being allowed in homes, he said, "Proper safety guidelines need to be followed. Repair work in buildings, too, can be completed but it is good if the labourers are allowed to stay on site, buildings need to make some arrangements for them."

To a question about housing societies that have common entrances with nursing homes within premises, Kakani said, "Proper sanitisation and distancing have to be followed."

Query wary
To a query about whether families should be forced to buy a second vehicle as couples or siblings were unable to go to work together on a scooter, he said, "We do not want people to buy vehicles. We want them to maintain social distance. That is the way to beat the disease."

As questions flew in fast, including one about Mumbaikars flying in from abroad and quarantine measures, it was evident that clear cut answers were the antidote to the Mumbaikar's COVID confusion.

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