Analysis-India: One of Asia’s biggest slums reports first coronavirus death, India must prepare for a wave of cases

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Coronavirus in indian slums
Dharavi slums on a river bank, Mumbai

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According to Indian doctors, the country must prepare to face a wave of cases that could be reported within a few days after one of Asia’s biggest slums has confirmed its first coronavirus death in Dharavi slum, in Mumbai.

Still according to these experienced doctors, the number of cases to be reported could get far beyond what Europe and the United States are currently experiencing.

On Wednesday, a 56-year-old man passed away just a few hours after testing positive for coronavirus while being transferred to a local hospital, Kiran Dighavkar.

Several family members of the victim have been tested and placed under home quarantine.

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The neighborhood which comprises around 300 houses have been sealed off to prevent further infections, as reported by CNN.

Doctors fear that if coronavirus outbreak is to spread in this or similar slums, the situation will be beyond since there is little sanitation or running water. Moreover, the population density of the slum, about 280,000 people per square kilometre, will make social distancing impossible.

This is the second coronavirus-related death reported in Mumbai’s slums since the outbreak began, BMC officials confirmed with CNN. As a reminder, a 63-year-old man of the Malvani slum passed away on Tuesday after being tested positive for the virus.

“Once we know that one slum has got it, and we lock it down, and we feed everybody and we keep them isolated for the next two weeks, we keep them well-fed, it will work its way out. We will know the critical ones, and the ones who are mild, they can be quarantined at home, and the population at large can be monitored,” Trehan said.

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“We are already seeing evidence of it (community transmission). How widespread it is, we don’t know,” he expressed.

“My fear is, is that no matter how much preparation we do, if it peaks, we will not have even a fraction of what we need, by way of beds, by way of ventilators, by way of PPEs (personal protective gear), everything.”

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