In a major acknowlegement for the Maharashtra government in handling Coronavirus cases, Director-General of the World Health Organisation (WHO) Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Friday said the examples of Italy, Spain, South Korea and India’s biggest slum, Dharavi, showed that however bad a outbreak was, the virus could still be reined in through aggressive action.

Addressing a virtual press conference in Geneva, he said it is still possible to bring Coronavirus outbreaks under control, even though case numbers have more than doubled in the past six weeks.

“Today, the world has recorded 12 million cases. In the last six weeks, cases have more than doubled,” he said.

However, the WHO chief added, “there are many examples from around the world that have shown that even if the outbreak is very intense, it can still be brought back under control”.

He further stressed the importance of leadership, community participation and collective solidarity to control the virus.

“In Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, New Zealand, Italy, Spain, South Korea and even in Dharavi, a densely packed area in Mumbai, a strong focus on community engagement and basics of testing, tracing, isolating and treating the sick is key to breaking chains of transmission and suppressing the virus,” he said.

Dharavi, which is located in India’s commercial capital Mumbai, is spread over an area of 2.5 square kilometres and has a population of 650,000. People live in shanties and dilapidated buildings with narrow lanes and open sewers.

The first COVID-19 patient in Dharavi was found on April 1, nearly three weeks after Mumbai recorded its maiden positive case on March 11.

On June 9, the tally of the Coronavirus cases in Dharavi, once a COVID-19 hotspot in the city, reached 2,347 after nine new infections were detected. Mumbai has recorded over 88,000 COVID-19 cases and 5,129 deaths.

Dharavi has only 291 active Coronavirus cases, while 1,815 patients have recovered and discharged.

The overall number of global Coronavirus cases has surged to over 12.4 million, while the deaths have crossed 5,59,000, according to the Johns Hopkins University.

“Across all walks of life, we are all being tested to the limit,” Tedros said, “from countries where there is exponential growth, to places that are loosening restrictions and now starting to see cases rise.”

“Only aggressive action combined with national unity and global solidarity can turn this pandemic around,” he added.