Coronavirus outbreak: Restrictions in Mumbai likely to continue

Updated: Apr 07, 2020, 07:16 IST | Dharmendra Jore | Mumbai

Government considering Bhilwara model - where containment zones are fully sealed and intense surveillance, testing stepped up

Worli Koliwada is one of the Coronavirus hotspots in Mumbai. Pic/Ashish Raje
Worli Koliwada is one of the Coronavirus hotspots in Mumbai. Pic/Ashish Raje

While it is undecided about throwing open all services, the Maharashtra government is likely to continue with restrictions related to the Coronavirus pandemic in Mumbai, especially in the hotspots, even after the national lockdown ends on April 14.

The island city and the suburbs are the most affected among the 274 Coronavirus-hit districts in the country, where the government is mulling a Bhilwara-like crisis management plan. The Centre and state governments are frequently deliberating the preparedness ahead of the lifting of the lockdown. They want a staggered emergence of the population as the real challenge before them is to prevent the escalation of community transmission. By Monday morning, the country had over 4,000 confirmed cases and of the 109 deaths reported, over 80 per cent are in 62 districts which are hotspots, including Mumbai and its suburbs.

Officials feel that one of the most crowded cities in the world, greater Mumbai's situation will worsen if restrictions are lifted and hotspots are exposed to healthy people who would take to the streets in large numbers.

Certain hotspots, like Worli Koliwada, in Mumbai have seen Bhilwara like measures. Pic/Sameer Markande
Certain hotspots, like Worli Koliwada, in Mumbai have seen Bhilwara like measures. Pic/Sameer Markande

Bhilwara model in city
Administrative and health circles have been discussing the model used in Bhilwara, Rajasthan wherein the containment zone is completely sealed and divided into two or three circles; intense surveillance is conducted within the circles and suspects and in some cases, entire families are tested. The town hasn't reported more positive cases after the Collector implemented the plan with a steely resolve.

In greater Mumbai, civic ward offices have marked certain hotspots, like Worli, where Bhilwara-like measures are being implemented.

Authorities had not arrived at a consensus over resuming suburban and long-distance train services. If thrown open, Mumbai and its satellite cities are expected to receive thousands of people after April 15 as the Mumbai-bound trains are being booked increasingly.

Airline companies are booking domestic tickets expecting the lifting of lockdown. Another important issue pertains to government and private offices that are closed and the industrial and manufacturing units that stopped working. Essential services are running at full strength, but other government offices are running at the 5 per cent staffing pattern. Private offices, barring telcos, internet vendors, essential IT support companies, are working from home. However, since manufacturing/industry cannot be run from home and lack of production has hit jobs, government revenue and the economy, a concrete decision is expected. The government will have to decide on cinema halls, mill compounds (pubs, discos, malls), marriage halls and cultural/religious events.

"Any decision about all this is expected only a couple of days before April 15 and a lot will depend on how the pandemic progresses by then," said a government official.

Stay home for Shab-e-Barat
Sources in the government said police and civic officials were speaking with Islamic leaders to consider asking the community to stay home instead of visiting graveyards during Shab-e-Barat on April 8 and 9. Every year, community members go en mass to burial grounds to pray for their ancestors. Similarly, Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar's followers have been asked to stay indoors on his birth anniversary on April 14.

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