WITH CLOSE TO 1.5 lakh cases within city limits and an additional 1.8 lakh in the extended metropolitan region, Mumbai's fight with Covid-19 has been a staggering one. Every day, the city reports between 1,100 and 1,300 new cases and nearly 50 people die from the virus. In many ways, Covid-19 has exposed the dream city's vulnerabilities.
In the initial months after the first case was recorded in the city on March 11, Mumbai scrambled to hold together its shaky health infrastructure. It battled lack of medical equipment, the dearth of frontline health workers in leading public hospitals, a huge migrant crisis, food shortage in high-density areas, the threat of transmission in slums, sudden transfers of municipal commissioners, undercounting of deaths, and frequently changing testing policies that were sometimes at variance with ICMR guidelines.
“I think Mumbai took a long time to take decisions and decentralise the control of Covid-19,” says Sayli Mankikar, senior fellow at Observer Research Foundation. “It was too little too late when it began. But after Iqbal Chahal (current municipal commissioner) took over [in early May], a new protocol was put in place, which worked. I feel we need to innovate and disrupt further.”
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September 13, 2020