COVID-19: Vague details throw up contact-tracing challenge in Dharavi

Updated: May 02, 2020, 08:26 IST | Ashish Raje, Pallavi Smart | Mumbai

Ground officials say often basic information like address and phone number is not available; G North ward officer denies such a problem

Health workers look for a suspected COVID-19 patient in Dharavi. Pic/Ashish Raje
Health workers look for a suspected COVID-19 patient in Dharavi. Pic/Ashish Raje

Apart from being one of those areas in Mumbai, which has recorded the most number of COVID-19 cases, Dharavi seems to have come up with a bigger challenge now. According to ground workers, contact tracing has become a task in the slum due to incomplete addresses and wrong contact details.

A number of factors have led to the continuous rise in cases in Dharavi. One of them is the difficulty in following social-distancing rules, as it is a densely populated area. But if contact tracing becomes difficult, then it might become another point of concern.

On Friday, a team of officials, who visited the slum to trace a suspected COVID-19 patient, had to return without any success because the person could not be found. mid-day's photographer, who was at the spot, found out that it was because of an incomplete address. There have been instances of officials looking for people with minimal information about them.

Ground difficulties

"This does lead to situations where the person cannot be traced. In this specific case, the address was as vague as that the person lived behind a building in Dharavi. We reached the building and found a person of the same name but not the one we were looking for. There were no house number or road details. Most of the times the method we follow to reach a person is by asking around due to vague location details. Even mobile numbers are not correct sometimes," shared an official.

It has also been found that in some cases the numbers given by people are incorrect. The official further said that sometimes it's a task to trace contacts, as the details provided are vague and sometimes even incorrect.

'No such issue'

However, G-North ward officer, Kiran Dighavkar denied facing any such problem. He said, "There is no issue in tracing at all. It is not very difficult. Information regarding a person's location can be found out. There can be a rare case like this one but haven't received any complaint stating that it's an issue."

"We are also screening senior citizens by checking them with oximeter. We have appealed to about 350 private clinics to remain open and are providing them with PPE for free. If anybody is suspected to be a COVID-19 patient, he/she is sent to institutional quarantine for further tests. Until now more than 1,800 persons have been quarantined and currently 600 are in institutional quarantine. In fact, we hope to makeinstitutional quarantine possible for maximum number of people. Numbers will increase for another week and then we can expect the curve to flatten," added Dighavkar.

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