Why Living in Slums May Raise Risk of COVID-19

and What Can Be Done

+ Patrick Lamson-Hall


Writing for The Wire Science, Urban Expansion Research Scholar Patrick Lamson-Hall along with Harshita Agrawal and Kadambari Shah of the IDFC Institute have written an opinion piece, “Mumbai’s Seroprevalence Results Point the Way on Urban Reform.” They write:

Seroprevalence (a measure of virus exposure in a population) in the slums of Mumbai has reduced from 57% to 45%. In non-slum areas, it has increased from 16% to 18%. The opposing trends aside, the figures indicate that simply living in slums seems to increase the risk of contracting COVID-19. Why?

From an urban-planning perspective, slum areas primarily suffer from two human-made afflictions: no formal planning, leading to very few roads within informal settlements and a lack of public spaces between buildings; and no formal status, causing buildings to be haphazardly constructed and difficult to expand. These issues are on display throughout urban India, but are epitomised in Dharavi.

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