Bengaluru: Covid-19 helped BBMP see beyond roads, waste | Bengaluru News – Times of India

BENGALURU: Public health, never among BBMP’s priorities, is now at the top, thanks to the pandemic. Bengaluru was where the state’s first Covid-19 case was reported and the city continues to account for around half of the state’s daily infections.
Initially, the focus of the Palike’s was to screen, isolate or quarantine international travellers. Another measure was to prepare state-run Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Chest Disease to handle patients – the city’s first Covid-only facility.

Infection remained low until June and the city was regarded as one of the metros that managed the pandemic well. But cases began to rise in July and the ‘Bengaluru model’, hailed for its tech approach to trace contacts, took a beating. Bengaluru reported the highest number of infections among all cities in the country for several days in row.
The Palike’s response was plagued with glitches, beginning with a delay in ambulances reaching patients to hospitals turning patients away. BBMP’s move to barricade houses of infected people also led to stigma and fear of the virus.
With the city’s response in chaos, the government ushered in a change of guard, bringing in N Manjunatha Prasad, principal secretary, revenue, as BBMP commissioner on July 18. The first thing Prasad did was to inspect private hospitals. The government then used all possible legal means to ensure hospitals kept 50% of their beds to treat patients referred by public authorities.
Action was taken against non-compliance. More ambulances were added and the central control room for monitoring beds was made more efficient.
“We hired 1,500 people on contract basis as swab collectors, lab technicians and data entry operators and their work has been crucial in testing and reporting,” Prasad said. “In July, there were not enough testing facilities. We had to streamline the patient referral system. Not only was bed shortage a concern, we didn’t have enough crematoria for fatalities in July. A dozen more graveyards were added, four of which were only for Covid victims.”
The city has conducted more than 44 lakh tests and its daily target is 55,000 tests. The Palike is now gearing up to roll out the vaccine.
“We are working on vaccine storage in 141 primary health centres falling under BBMP,” Prasad said.


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Sagar Biswas

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