As the coronavirus gnaws its way across India, Mumbai has suffered the worst. This city of 20 million is now responsible for 20 percent of India’s coronavirus infections and nearly 25 percent of the deaths.
Hospitals are overflowing with the sick. Police officers are exhausted enforcing a stay-at-home curfew. Doctors say the biggest enemy is Mumbai’s density. Particularly in the city’s vast slum districts, social distancing is impossible. People live eight to a room across miles and miles of informal settlements made of concrete blocks and topped with sheets of rusted iron. As the temperatures climb toward 100 degrees Fahrenheit, many can’t stand to be cooped up anymore and spill into the streets.
For the past eight weeks, Atul Loke, a second-generation newspaper photographer, has been tracking the spread of the coronavirus across his city. Here is what he has seen.