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Home / News / India /  Mumbai braces for monsoon ailments amid raging covid-19

When the monsoon hits Mumbai this June, the city, which is already fighting the coronavirus pandemic, will be staring at another major challenge: vector-borne diseases.

Not to be caught off-guard, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has begun preparing for the monsoon by ramping up bed capacity at public and private hospitals.

This, says BMC, will help hospitals absorb patients with vector-borne diseases such as dengue, malaria, cholera, typhoid and gastroenteritis.

“The upscaling of beds that is going on right now will also be used for patients with monsoon-related diseases," said Suresh Kakani, additional municipal commissioner (health) at BMC.

BMC is working to make nearly 100,000 beds available for covid-19 patients in the next few days as it expects cases to peak in two-three weeks. Besides public and private hospitals, arrangements are being made at facilities dedicated to covid-19, including a modular hospital in Bandra Kurla Complex (BKC), NSCI Dome in Worli and Racecourse modular hospital at Mahalaxmi.

“We are trying to ramp up beds at health facilities solely dedicated to covid-19 patients, so that other public and private health facilities can absorb non-covid patients. Some facilities will be exclusively reserved for vector-borne and seasonal diseases so that patients are not turned down at hospitals," he added.

Mumbai receives an average 2,354 mm of rainfall over June to September, with July being the wettest month that usually witnesses more than one-third of the city’s annual rainfall.

While heavy rains and floods are a recurrent problem in Mumbai during the monsoon, the challenges are manifold this time as the city’s slums, many of them located along creeks and in low-lying areas, have also become the hotspots for the coronavirus. More than half of the city’s population resides in slums.

“We are seeing maximum covid-19 cases from the slum areas in Mumbai and those are also the most susceptible during the monsoon. These include Dharavi, Worli-Mahalaxmi, Matunga/Sion, Parel, Andheri West, Shivaji Nagar, Govandi-Mankhurd, Nagpada and Byculla," said Kakani.

BMC has also deployed nearly 200-250 teams within its 24 administrative wards (A to T) to tackle mosquito breeding, potholes, footpath improvement, road resurfacing, desilting, tree trimming and bridge repairs to avoid flooding and waterlogging.

“We are doing our best to reduce monsoon-related diseases. We have deployed more than double the number of teams compared to last year and have sanitized and sprayed insecticides at over 108,240 premises, including 14,850 covid-19 positive premises, 9,033 home quarantine premises and over 12,000 municipal premises," said Kakani.

Many patients have complained of rejection by private hospitals as they are either shut or are not admitting patients for fear of covid-19.

“We have to take into consideration the apprehensions of the medical community also, which does not want to work without personal protective equipment. We know the monsoon will bring its own challenges and in anticipation, we have asked for all hospitals to be started as soon as possible," said a senior doctor who is in discussions with the BMC to open his clinic.

On 23 April, BMC issued a circular based on directions received from the state government to allow completion of all unfinished basements and retaining walls, structural repairs, waterproofing work and all tenable repairs like plastering of walls and plumbing to make them monsoon-ready and avoid damage to adjoining buildings and roads during rains. However, construction activity was not allowed in containment zones.

Through this move, BMC wants to reduce the possibility of flooding, protect against landslides and curb mosquito breeding, which may lead to additional health hazards during the pandemic, the municipal body said.

There are about 2,000 containment zones in the city, which includes entire areas that have been contained and individual buildings that have been sealed by the BMC. Of these, 988 are containment areas and within these, 284 have been de-contained and 671 are active, said Kakani. Further, there are 1,000 buildings that have also been sealed by BMC.

Mumbai receives an average 2,354 mm of rainfall over June to September, with July being the wettest month that usually witnesses more than one-third of the annual rainfall in the city.

While heavy rains and floods are a recurrent problem in Mumbai during the monsoon, the challenges are manifold this time as the city’s slums, many of them located along creeks and in low-lying areas, have also become the hotspots for the Coronavirus. More than half of the city’s population resides in slums.

“We are seeing maximum covid-19 cases from the slum areas in Mumbai and those are also the most susceptible during the monsoon. These include Dharavi, Worli-Mahalaxmi, Matunga/Sion, Parel, Andheri West, Shivaji Nagar, Govandi-Mankhurd, Nagpada and Byculla," said Kakani.

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