Covid-19 Test Spam Calls: Agents enticing you to get admitted to private hospitals

The covid mess is plumbing new depths coronadir

Spam calls regarding covid test reports. Agents to get you hospital beds. That’s just what we need now to make matters worse.

Ramesh Kumar who lives in Koramangala got a call on August 10, telling him that he had tested positive, when he had a report to say he had tested negative. “When I asked the caller who he was, he said he was calling on behalf of the Karnataka government. When I questioned him further, he put me on hold for a really long time and then hung up on me.” When Kumar checked the number, 91 80-68277300, it was marked as SPAM and he could not call back.

On Tuesday another resident of Koramangala, Sanketh S, got a call from a number and the caller said that he was calling from BBMP Jayanagar zone.

“When I live in Koramangala, why is BBMP Jayanagar calling me? They also said I had tested positive when the report in my hand says negative. The caller seemed chatty, asking me where I live, my full address, my family details… Other than that, he did not say anything. He asked me to send him my negative report so that he could update it in the database.”

Calls and confusion

Dr Vijayendra, chief health officer from BBMP said, “BBMP will call patients only when they are tested positive. Calls are made from two centres – BBMP call centre and an NGO group called StepIn. If I get the details of the spam calls, we will verify it. If we find that there are calls being made other numbers, we will register a FIR,” he added.

Agents at work

The scarcity of beds for covid patients has given rise to a group of ‘agents’ who say they specialise in getting beds for patients. Over sms, whatsapp, social media, posters are being circulated informing patients to contact these numbers if they need beds.

The aftermath of the brutal violence and arson in DJ Halli and KJ Halli



BM decided to put these agents to test with fake scenarios of covid cases:

Scenario 1: Our patient has breathing difficulties but had not taken a covid test.

Agent response: “She is a suspect and she needs a hospital with oxygen facilities. Beds in government hospitals are full and covid tests are delayed in government hospitals. If the patient has a BU code, the treatment is free and since the patient is still a suspect, it is better to shift her immediately to a private hospital. Once the BU code is generated, in the same private hospital, the patient will get treatment for government hospital rates. We have blocked a bed in a private hospital in Jayanagar for you. Per day bed charges will be around Rs. 15,000. Big hospitals charge Rs. 25,000.”

Scenario 2: Our patient is covid positive with a BU code and a SRF number.

Agent response: We have spoken to the BBMP and have arranged for a bed in the private hospital. It is advisable to shift the patient immediately as facilities are better at a private hospital and this comes to you at government rates.”

Scenario 3: Our patient is poor and cannot afford private hospital bills. Please give us a bed in a government hospital.

Agent response: We tried making a few calls but it is better to go to a private hospital. They will ensure that the patient gets treatment under SAST in a private hospital for free.

Be warned, citizens

When BM asked Bengaluru DHO, Srinivas Gurla about the bed scam and agents, he said, “Citizens should not believe these agents who claim they are getting them private hospital beds. BBMP is already allotting the beds and also arranging for ambulances. I request citizens not to fall for these kinds of activities.”

Ace Suhas Hospital CEO, Dr Jagadish Hiremath said, “We have not heard of a third party reserving beds. This is news to us. There are either direct admissions (emergency cases) or from the BBMP covid team. We have a very strict and transparent patient-centric policy and we don’t entertain agents under any circumstances and as yet we haven’t had any such experience.”

Bengaluru Photos: Aftermath of violence, arson in DJ Halli, KG Halli

Aftermath of Bengaluru violence

Violence broke out in Pulikeshinagar on Tuesday night when mobs came out to protest against Naveen P, nephew of Congress MLA Srinivasamurthy, who is accused of posting a derogatory remark on social media. The protest began outside the DJ Halli police station and then turned violent, with rioters damaging public and private property. Following the riot, the Karnataka government has ordered a district magistrate probe into the violence in Pulikeshinagar Assembly Constituency. A decision in this regard was taken at a meeting chaired by Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa with Home Minister Basavaraj Bommai and Revenue Minister R Ashoka. Photo by Kaushik JN/MMCL

Three dead, 15 injured

Three people were dead and 15 injured after the police opened fire to bring the violence under control during the riot. Additionally, as many as 75 police personnel were also injured in the incident. The deceased have been identified as Sher Siddique, a resident of Puttaswamy Garden, Wasim Pasha, resident of SK Garden and Mohammed Yasin, resident of SK garden. All were aged between 20 – 25 years and were reportedly shot by the police to quell the riot. After they were shot, two of the deceased were found to be Covid-19 positive. Photo by Kaushik JN/MMCL


A night of terror and arson

Around 1,500 people had gathered outside KG Halli and DJ Halli police stations on Tuesday night. Recalling the terror, Suresh, who resides in the lane that the DJ Halli police station is situated, said that the residents first heard a commotion at 9 pm and saw that a huge crowd had gathered outside the police station. Within an hour, the mob got a few bottles of petrol and kerosene and poured it on the vehicles parked outside. “Around 11 pm, we realised that the police station was on fire and the police were using tear gas to bring the mob under control. Within some time, we started hearing gunshots and people screaming,” he said. Photo by Kaushik JN/MMCL

Naveen claims his account was hacked

In his statement to the police, Naveen, who is posted the derogatory Facebook post that seems to have instigated the violence, claimed that his account was hacked and someone uploaded the derogatory post on purpose. He was taken into police custody on Tuesday night and has been kept at an undisclosed location. His father also said that his phone was stolen two days before the incident. Photo by Kaushik JN/MMCL

Police on duty

After Section 144 was imposed in DJ Halli, KG Halli and Kaval Byrasandra till Saturday morning, cops were seen dispersing motorcyclists and rickshaw drivers. The areas surrounding DJ Halli have also been sealed. Photo by Kaushik JN/MMCL

Over 150 people arrested

The police took immediate action and arrested over 150 people, including two prime accused who are suspected to have instigated the riots. The prime accused have been identified as Sayed Admnan and Mujamil Pasha. Police have named 17 people now in the FIR Photo by Kaushik JN/MMCL

State plan to recover damages from arsonists

According to sources, the two accused, along with 15 others, had approached the DJ Halli police station around 8:30 pm to file a complaint against Naveen Police said that they had informed the group that they would investigate the case but the group insisted on handing over Naveen to them. Mujamil is said to have stood for BBMP elections representing ward 60 last year and is an active member of SDPI. Another accused, Wajid associated with the JD(S), have also been arrested. The Karnataka government plans to recover the damages from the arsonists. Photo by Kaushik JN/MMCL

‘Our children are innocent’

Meanwhile, on Wednesday morning, the family members of the arrested accused arrived at the DJ Halli police station claiming that their children were innocent and requested the police to release their children who were taken into police custody. The deceased Mohammed Yasin’s mother claimed that he was not involved in any violence and was a victim of the riots. Photo by Kaushik JN/MMCL

Human chain to save the temple

As Kaval Byrasandra burnt on Tuesday night, a group of young men quickly formed a human chain around a temple, close to the MLA’s house, to prevent the incident from taking on a communal colour. They stood there, from 10.45 pm to 12 midnight, when police platoons arrived and asked them to leave as they were clearing the area. Photo by Kaushik JN/MMCL

Residents of DJ Halli attacked, robbed

A day after a mob went on a rampage in DJ Halli, several residents of the area alleged that they were robbed during the mayhem. Miscreants are said to have barged into several houses and made off with valuables in this area. In Kaval Byrasandra, some gangs allegedly destroyed all the CCTV cameras in the area and entered the houses and assaulted the people inside. Photo by Kaushik JN/MMCL

MLA’s house vandalised

MLA Akhanda Srinivasa Murthy’s house, also in this area, was ransacked and torched by the miscreants. Police are yet to receive any complaints on these incidents though. According to the neighbours, Murthy’s house was ransacked thrice from 7 pm and was set ablaze at 11 pm. The miscreants took all the gold and silver ornaments from the house before setting it on fire. The house was also gutted. Photo by Kaushik JN/MMCL

Cash, gold jewellery stolen from Naveen’s house

After vandalising the MLA’s residence, the mob then turned to his nephew P Naveen’s house, which is also in the area. Naveen’s father Pavan said, “They barged inside the house and took about Rs 5 lakh in cash and gold jewellery worth Rs 5 lakh from the locker,” he said. A senior police officer told Bangalore Mirror under the condition of anonymity that they have secured a few videos of these alleged robberies and are examining it to identify the persons in it. “None of the families have come forward to file a complaint with the police yet,” he confirmed. Photo by Kaushik JN/MMCL

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Sagar Biswas

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