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Alarm bells were sounded in Mumbai after four people from Worli-Koliwada tested positive for the novel coronavirus on Monday.
A week into the 21 days lockdown announced by PM Modi, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Maharashtra are now increasing much faster than before. As of March 31, the numbers had escalated to 302, with 156 cases in Mumbai alone.
The authorities sounded alarm bells after a few patients, who tested positive on Monday, were found to be from densely populated areas in Mumbai and Pune. The state government authorities fear that coronavirus could spread rapidly in these high-density localities.
"Two from Gultekadi at Pune and four from Worli-Koliwada have tested positive. Both areas are densely populated, where there is a high risk of community transmission. The patients have no foreign travel history and had come in contact with COVID-19 patients. We fear that there could be a number of people that had come in contact with these people," Hindustan Times quoted a key official from the state government as saying.
Many areas in Mumbai are so densely populated that social distancing becomes almost impossible. For people living in Mumbai chawls, maintaining six feet is a luxury that they cannot afford.
In Dharavi where Asia's biggest slum is located the population density is 280,000 per square kilometre. In the narrow lanes of the slums, it is nearly impossible for two people to walk without rubbing shoulders.
In Mumbai's Sion area, there are many stores where people were queuing outside the shops without following social distancing norms.
"We do our best but even educated people don't listen to us. Many times, they ask us to back off," a Sion resident said.
Outside a famous food store, the gatekeeper was having a hard time telling people to maintain distance. According to the manager of the food store, some people had even tried to erase the marks, which had been made on the ground for helping people maintain distance from each other.
"We tell them that only one person needs to enter at a time but they don't listen. They feel that the food supplies will end and so they don't stop," he was quoted as saying.
Every vehicle that was passing by on the highway, were being checked by the police personnel. Identification cards were checked before individuals were being allowed to pass.
As of now, essential supplies are fast disappearing from the stores in some areas of Mumbai and people are hoping for the lockdown to end soon.
Several local general stores in the area had empty shelves. People with a long list of household items were observed queuing outside the stores.
"See right now you can't talk about what you need. Get whatever you can. If you get what you want then you are lucky," Rajesh, a resident of Dadar was quoted as saying. The grocery stores look half-empty in Matunga as well, although there's no scarcity of fruits and vegetables.
"I have been doing business here for the last 20 years but never before have I seen such a situation," a grocery shop owner said.
"I have such good relations that I get supply even if I don't pay upfront. But this time I am told there is no stock. I myself went to Vashi. There were 100 people waiting to get delivery. I had to return. I am doing whatever I can for the people because they have made me what I am. But now my stock is finishing," he added.
A similar situation is observed in pharmacy stores. The supplies are not reaching the retail outlets as there is no transportation facility. "We are selling whatever we have. We can hope that things will improve soon," a medical store owner said.
Other medical store owners had a similar take on the current situation and said stocks are low.
Some delivery boys of a prominent food delivery chain had been issued ID cards after the incidents of the delivery executives were beaten up. But most of them have to carry out their duties without any food as most of the shops are closed.
"We have been issued ID cards now and we aren't beaten up. But while we are delivering food to as many, we ourselves don't have the means to eat the entire day while we are at work. The company doesn't provide us (with) food and outside there aren't many hotels open so we many of us are starving the entire day. But we are happy that at least we are able to serve people at this critical hour," one of the delivery executives opined.
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