COVID Cases Witness a Plunge in Bhubaneswar Slums

Growing awareness and sensitisation campaigns amidst the slums by various governmental and non-governmental bodies seem to have finally paid off, as capital city Bhubaneswar witnessed a plunge in COVID positive cases in its densely packed slum pockets.

Till the first week of August, the slums accounted for nearly one-fifth of the total number of cases. As per detailed statistics revealed by the government agencies, Bhubaneswar had a total of 11,853 cases till Thursday. Out of those, the slums contributed to only 1,487 cases – or roughly 12.46% of the pie. What makes this decline of about 7.5% noteworthy is that despite the poor sanitisation and living standards in the slums, the virus has not managed to spread its tentacles far and wide.

Officials from the Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC) said that aggressive surveillance coupled with contact tracing and appropriate isolation reduced the possibility of further contamination. “The other areas where cases have been reported include hospitals, industries, workplaces, residential complexes, government offices, financial institutions, and fire and police department,” said a BMC official.

It also added that the members from the slum communities took it upon themselves to help sensitise the residents about the perilous path if regulations were not to be obeyed. The administration had also prudently barred the entry of people from hotspot districts into the slums, which proved to be a major factor to stem the possibility of unchecked growth of cases.

By official estimates, the city has around 80,000 residents living in the slums. Shantilata Das, who is a member of the Mahila Arogya Samiti (MAS) under the aegis of National Health Mission (NHM), noted that one MAS member has been allotted to five slum families for daily surveillance. “We are giving demonstration to slum-dwellers on a daily basis on how to wash hands and wear masks. We also get information from each family member about their movement and health. This way, the residents have been kept under surveillance. This has helped bring down the cases,” Das said.