Making a Comeback

Forbes India|June 5, 2020

Making a Comeback
Three of India's leading business cities continue to register spikes in coronavirus cases. Here's what they can do to set their wheels of socio-economic activity back in motion
MONICA BATHIJA

MUMBAI

Handle with Care

In Jeevan Nagar in Mumbai’s Andheri West, Manna Khan Pathan, who works as a domestic help, is sitting outside while her granddaughter cleans their house. A couple of weeks ago, thermal screening was carried out in the area by the authorities who also did pulse oximetry for those over 65.

“We used to have a doctor coming in for a couple of hours every day, but about 15 days ago, we told him to stop coming since we don’t know which other clinics or areas he had been going to,” Pathan says.

While she might get paid for the period she has been at home, it is not the case with lakhs of people who live and work in the dense slums of Mumbai, India's financial hub, whose struggles under lockdown are among the most unique globally. The city's army of informal workers, rendered jobless under the lockdown and living in cramped housing, steps out every day to access basic utilities—from water to a washroom—amid fears of rising infections that a stretched public health care infrastructure is ill-equipped to handle, bringing into sharp focus the close co-relation between health care, urban planning and economic activity.

Mumbai had 17,512 cases of coronavirus and has seen 655 deaths, as of May 15. It is the worst affected among cities in the country, because of which the Uddhav Thackeray-led state government has extended the lockdown till May 31.

Ramped up testing, more hospital beds and increased medical personnel are some of the measures the newly-appointed BMC Commissioner Iqbal Chahal announced in Mumbai a week before lockdown 3.0 was to end on May 17. The objective: To ensure the doubling rate of the infection increases to 14 days from the current 10 days by May 20.

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June 5, 2020