But an outbreak of coronavirus in a place where social distancing is an oxymoron could easily turn into a grave public health emergency and overwhelm the city’s stretched public health system.
Nobody realises this more than the officials racing to track and contain the infection.
Patient No 1 of Dharavi lived with his eight-member family – his wife, four daughters, and two sons – in a poky 420 sq ft one-room apartment in a low-rise slum tenement ringed by squalid shanties.
…The man owned another apartment in the same complex. There he hosted five people who had reportedly arrived from Delhi after attending a conference in early March organised by Tablighi Jamaat.
…Hundreds of people who attended the religious event in the capital set off several Covid-19 clusters across the country and are now linked to some 650 cases across 14 states.
The police believe the five men lived in the Dharavi apartment for two days – between 19 and 21 March- before they left for Kerala. “We are trying to trace these people,” said Mr Dighavkar.
…On Thursday, a 35-year-old doctor working with a private hospital and living in the slum tested positive for the virus. Municipality workers scrambled to isolate and seal 300 people living in the doctor’s building. They have also identified 13 high-risk contacts in the building and sent their swabs for testing. The doctor told officials that two nurses in his hospital had tested positive for the virus. And at the weekend, a 30-year-old woman inside the same building complex as the trader, a 60-year-old man, who owns a metal fabrication shop and a 21-year-old male lab technician, tested positive.
“We are still able to try to contain the infection of the gated slum colonies. But there are the slums outside, and if we get cases there, we can’t isolate them at home, and have to send even the high-risk cases to the sports complex quarantine centre,” says Mr Dighavkar.