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Bengaluru plagued by fatigued manpower, sudden travellers influx from neighbouring hotspot states worsened situation

Anil Urs Bengaluru | Updated on July 24, 2020 Published on July 24, 2020

Minister for Medical Education K Sudhakar   -  Handout E mail

As Bengaluru is reeling with over 2,000 cases of Covid-19 added per day for the last 10 days, the State government has tweaked the strategy to tackle rising cases. Medical Education Minister K Sudhakar explains to BusinessLine as to how the government is creating additional medical infrastructure to tackle Bengaluru's rising cases. Excerpts:

What do you have to say for failure of tech-enabled tracing and tracking in Bengaluru?

During the initial phases of lockdown in Karnataka we did 47 tests for every positive case which was the highest in the country. However, as the influx of people from other States started increasing from June there was a simultaneous rise in cases too. We fell short of manpower to carry out contact tracing and fatigue had set in for staff who were involved in tracing for the past four months. We have now identified more than 1,000 staff from various departments and deployed them for tracing with two senior officers in-charge.

After dividing the city into eight zones, what are the other measures the State government has taken for Bengaluru?

Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa has appointed eight senior ministers as in-charge and a senior IAS officer for each of the eight zones and 8,154 booth level task force committees have been set-up in Bengaluru to strengthen local management.

Each booth level task force will have a BLO, lineman or waterman, officer from BBMP, 5-10 local volunteers, presiding officers of social organisations, elected representatives, representatives from political parties. Every booth level task force will cover 300-400 households or 1,000-1,500 population and conduct door to door surveys to identify vulnerable people including senior citizens, people with co-morbidities, ILI and SARI. Our target is to keep the mortality rate less than 1 per cent. To this end we are taking measures for early detection and treatment of infected persons.

Booth level task force committees will also be responsible to certify whether the house qualifies home isolation in case any person needs to be isolated. They have also been tasked to create awareness about reverse isolation of elderly people aged above 60 at home.

Other than internal migration, what are the other reasons for Bengaluru recording over 1,000 cases per day?

Influx of travellers from the neighbouring hotspot States such as Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Telangana is the main reason for increase in cases in Karnataka. .

What are the present level tests conducted in the city, is there a plan to increase it?

As of last week, we have conducted 1.85 lakh tests in Bengaluru. Over 25,000 tests are being conducted in a single day and 9.25 lakh tests have been conducted in the State.

In the next 15 days, 58 medical colleges together will be able to test about 25,000 to 30,000 samples every day. Private hospitals and labs together will be able to test another 10,000 samples per day. Within the next 7-10 days the testing capacity will be stepped up to 40,000-50,000 per day. We have also started rapid antigen testing and one lakh antigen test kits have been procured. About 30,000 of these antigen tests will be conducted in Bengaluru.

In terms of hospital beds, is the availability adequate for a city like Bengaluru?

As of last week we had 5,311 beds reserved for Covid treatment across three government colleges, 16 government hospitals, 11 private medical colleges and six Covid Care Centres in the city. 1,172 beds among them are HDU, 123 are ICU and 151 are ICU with ventilators.

There are about 10,000 beds in private medical colleges out of which 4,500 beds will be reserved for Covid patients. 2,200 beds have already been provided and the remaining 2,300 beds will be provided in next 2-3 days.

What are the new challenges faced in Bengaluru to contain the Covid cases?

There were some issues like delay in receiving test reports due to heavy workload on government labs, issues in starting private labs, handing over beds by private hospitals etc. All these issues are now being sorted out.

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Published on July 24, 2020
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