How Asia’s biggest slum Dharavi contained the coronavirus outbreak

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2020-06-24 04:33:27

In one of the world’s most congested shanty towns, social distancing is not a luxury people can afford. And density is a friend of the coronavirus.

Imagine more than 500,000 people spread over 2.5 grubby sq km, less than a square mile. That’s a population larger than Manchester living in an area smaller than Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens.

Eight to 10 people live together in poky 100 sq ft dwellings. About 80% of the residents use community toilets. Homes and factories coexist in single buildings lining the slum’s narrow lanes. Most people are informal daily-wage workers who don’t cook at home and go out to get their food.

And yet Dharavi, a sprawling slum in the heart of Mumbai, India’s financial and entertainment capital, appears to have brought an outbreak under control – for now.

Since the first case was reported on 1 April, more than 2,000 infections and 80-odd deaths have been reported here. Half of the cases have recovered.

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