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A Tale of Two Cities: COVID Transmission in Mumbai and London


Ajit Karnik

Professor, Middlesex University Dubai

Mumbai and London play critical roles in the economies of India and the UK. They are both key engines of growth and employment generation. COVID-19 has dealt a severe blow to the functioning of both the cities.

The focus of the seminar is on examining the spread of COVID-19 across the various geographic regions, (known as wards in Mumbai and boroughs in London) of the two cities.

  1. Using the method of spatial econometrics, the research has found that the measure of this geographical spread was the lowest in July 2020 when both cities were just emerging from a severe lockdown which had shut down most economic activity.
  2. However, the months of August and September show this measure of geographical spread to be increasing. This suggests that as both cities have restarted economic activities, the increasing mobility of people has led to the spread of infections across the wards and boroughs of the two cities.
  3. Dividing the two cities into distinct regions, the research shows that Central London and the Island City area of Mumbai display the highest measure of geographical spread of infections. This seems inevitable since both these regions attract large working populations from the surrounding regions.
  4. Comparing the two cities, London has opened up much faster than Mumbai and this is seen in its higher measure of geographic spread of infections across the boroughs and wards.
  5. Looking forward, as the public transport systems in both cities open up fully and mobility increases, the spread of COVID infections will most certainly rise in the coming months.
  6. Regulatory measures to limit physical contact between people (perhaps via online communications) and social distancing in public transport may help combat the imminent threat of rising infections in the coming months.

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