Bengaluru’s Covid-19 fatality rate is 4.6 per cent as against Karnataka’s 1.2 per cent. The recovery rates are 45 per cent and 57 per cent, respectively. The ICU occupancy in the city is 6.1 per cent compared to 2 per cent state-wide.
The question worrying health teams is: will infections rise drastically in Bengaluru over the next few weeks? TOI spoke to several officials and experts to understand why cases had jumped.
The results of several tests, which had been delayed, arrived in a sudden burst, which contributed to higher numbers, according to officials of Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP). “Swabs from districts, which had seen an influx of migrant workers from other states, were sent to Bengaluru for testing. As a result, there was a backlog and the results were delayed by three to four days. Now, with the results out, it appears that there is a surge in cases, though there is no need to panic,” said BBMP commissioner B H Anil Kumar.
Technology & tracking
According to senior IAS officers, BBMP effectively contained the viral spread in the initial phase, but it lowered the guard after lockdown. “Earlier, the thrust was on health workers in the field, but now the focus is on data collection and presentation using technology. The city has conducted around 6,850 tests per million population. The figure should have been higher,” said an official with the state health and family welfare departments. “Health workers should be motivated again and deployed on the ground, and containment strategies should be augmented by technology.”
Influx of returnees
In the early stage of the health crisis, the civic agency tracked all foreign returnees. This model, which was successful in limiting infections, was not used properly for the surveillance of people returning from other states. “Many people entered the city through smaller roads, which led to more cases in the city,” home minister Basavaraj Bommai told TOI. “Our focus is on three places — Chennai, Delhi and Maharashtra — because they are reporting a high number of positive cases. Many people travelling from these states are asymptomatic careers.”
He estimated that nearly 10,000 people entered Bengaluru illegally, i.e. without undergoing health screening and quarantine procedures.
Despite high-decibel online and offline campaigns on public health, thousands of residents move around without masks, ignoring basic hygiene. In the past one week, BBMP has booked 4,364 people for not wearing masks, collecting Rs 8.7 lakh in fines. “Though there has been no cluster spread in recent weeks, people flout health guidelines and put themselves and others at risk. They touch common surfaces like railings and eat at restaurants in groups, throwing caution to the wind,” said Lokesh M, BBMP special commissioner (surveillance).
Late arrivals at hospitals
Health officials cited two factors for the increase in the number of Covid-19 deaths in Bengaluru. First, those with symptoms are reporting late to hospitals. Second, there are many patients with comorbidities. “Those getting hospitalised have preexisting conditions like cardiac issues, liver damage and kidney failure. These patients have poor immunity and a weakened respiratory system,” said Dr B Vijayendra, chief health officer, BBMP.
Dr Venkatesh T, BBMP programme officer (clinical), said people were afraid to visit hospitals and were delaying appointments with doctors. At least nine Covid-19 positive people were brought dead to the hospital.