Karnataka more adept at handling virus | Bengaluru News – Times of India


BENGALURU: Monday will mark the completion of a year since Karnataka reported its first Covid-19 case. A 41-yearold software engineer who had returned from the US via Dubai tested positive on March 9 last year — the first case in the state — kicking off a fight against the pandemic which is still far from over.

From complaints of nonavailability of ambulances, patients dying outside hospitals due to lack of beds to uncertainty in policies to curb the virus and treat the infection around this time last year, Karnataka, which faces a second wave of infections, is much better prepared to tackle the pandemic today.
Although the state, like many others in India, had experience in dealing with H1N1 a few years ago and the Nipah virus more recently, the pace at which SARS-CoV2 spread caught the administration off guard and overwhelmed health facilities.
“The first few weeks were very challenging,” one official said. “Despite Karnataka being one of the first states to impose restrictions that were followed by a nationwide lockdown, curbing the spread was a tough task given that contacts had to be traced and isolated while we awaited a treatment protocol.”
While the initial growth in Karnataka was not alarming — it took more than a month to add 1,000 cases — the situation appeared to spiral out of control from the end of May 2020. From just 1,056 cases in mid-May, the state’s overall tally crossed the 10,000 mark by the third week of June from when cases began surging.
As of Sunday (March 7, 2021) the state has more than 9.5 lakh cases, of which a majority were added in four months (July 1-October 31). From 15,242 cases on June 30, the state’s tally jumped to 8.2 lakh on October 31. From there, it has added only 1.3 lakh cases in four months and one week.
Naturally, even deaths followed a similar pattern peaking in mid-2020 before tapering off in the last few months of the year. At the end of October 2020, Karnataka had recorded 10,036 deaths compared to just 114 in mid-June. As of Sunday, it is 12,362.
“When we began, there were only eight labs capable of conducting RT-PCR tests, but by mid-2020 we increased that to 175 labs,” said Dr CN Manjunath, member, Karnataka Covid-19 task force. “The Karnataka government was among the ones that acted quickly. It formed the task force and a technical committee and gave them powers to take decisions which allowed standardised treatment protocols that helped prevent deaths. Other decisions the government took ensured efficient tracking and testing that eventually curbed the spread. Today, the state is in a much better position to tackle a second wave.”
Notwithstanding the marginal increase in the number of cases in February 2021, Karnataka has the situation under control with an average growth rate of just 0.1% for the week between February 28 and March 6.
The case fatality rate, a major indicator of how the state managed the pandemic, stands at 1.3%, which is better than the national average, while active cases account for only 0.7% of the total positive cases.

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Sagar Biswas

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