Chennai: With a sanitation worker tested positive for Covid-19 at Ayyanar Street, Thattankulam, which is one of the largest slums in the city with a population of 1,500 residents, the containment in this thickly populated area has become daunting for the officials.
The 37-year-old lady worker, who has been currently admitted in Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital in the city, told Deccan Chronicle over the phone that her sample result came on Tuesday night. The Hospital authorities telephoned her and subsequently got her admitted to the hospital.
Her husband and two children are also sent to hospital quarantine.
She said that she was working as a sanitation worker at Egmore Railway Station and her samples were sent for testing a couple of days ago after her supervisor tested positive for Covid19.
“I am so scared. But hospital authorities give me timely treatment. I have been accommodated with another lady who is also corona positive”, she added.
The sanitation worker appears to the first positive case reported from city’s congested slums and it has sparked fear among residents that the infection could spread more rapidly.
The attempt of officials in containing the transmission has already proved to be daunting in various slums in other parts of the country, particularly in Mumbai's Dharavi because of the practical difficulties to ensure social distancing in a congested residential area.
This comes at a time when the number of positive cases continues to rise in the state, with 373 cases across Chennai as of April 22. They have declared 112 containment zones across the city. The latest information shared by the Corporation has 84 streets listed under all zones.
“We are doing everything we can to make sure it does not explode and that there is no community spread, but it is a big challenge to contain this (virus spread). We are conducting awareness programmes across length and breadth of the city,” said Dr T G Srinivasan, health education officer, Greater Chennai Corporation.
Y Manikandan, 38, a sanitation worker, who lives in a single room house with his wife and four daughters at Street 13 of K M Garden, said many people were very scared about the spread of virus
“Since the new of positive case spread, many of my neighbours are very nervous and staying indoors. They choose to get out of their homes only to use public toilets. All of them say that it is very difficult to escape the infection in such congested slums," he say.
The local residents in the area say that fear has already begun to take hold. At least ninety per cent of the residents do not have private toilets and they all use public toilets. One seat of a public toilet is used by 70 or 80 slum-dwellers daily.
"Many people do not have food at home. There are 1,500 residents and 15 streets here apart from 500 residents in Thattankulam. People are desperate as the distribution of ration is irregular. So in search of provisions and food handouts, people are being forced to stay outside their homes for a long time. At places like ration shops people are still gathering in big numbers. So we are very afraid of a fast spread of the virus,” Manikandan adds.