BENGALURU: Karnataka’s capital Bengaluru has emerged as the city with the highest active Covid-19 caseload in the country with 1,80,542 patients currently under treatment in hospitals and in home isolation.
Experts are rattled by the scary explosion of cases in Bengaluru, on which they are basing their desperate appeal for much stricter measures even a complete lockdown to stem the massive infection spread.
Bengaluru has recorded a whopping 151.35 per cent increase in the volume of patients currently under treatment since April 15, when the figure was 71,827.
With this huge jump, Bengaluru, with a dubious distinction, is far ahead of Delhi (93,080 active caseload) and more than double that of Mumbai (75,498), which are ranked second and third, respectively.
Bengaluru’s active caseload has increased dramatically over the past few days and the number, at present, is 27.62 per cent of the total number of people who tested positive in the city since March 2020.
On Sunday, the city added 20,733 new cases, taking the total to 6,53,656. It is this explosive rise in numbers that has thrown the city’s health system out of gear, leading to oxygen shortages and non-availability of beds, even for critically sick Covid-19 patients across Bengaluru.
Professor at Indian Institute of Public Health Dr Giridhara R Babu, a senior epidemiologist and member of the state government’s Technical Advisory Committee, told The New Indian Express, “There is a need to impose a lockdown, and the time should be utilised by the government to increase facilities like oxygen beds in all hospitals, medical colleges, nursing institutes, Covid Care Centres, hostels, ayurvedic and homeopathic hospitals and colleges. In the first phase, more efforts were made than what is being done now. In the second wave, the intensity and efforts need to be scaled up by five times to handle the situation.”
Looking at the way the numbers are spiking, he foresees the second wave peaking in mid-May.
‘Karnataka govt must scale up vax drive before third wave’
“The people and the government let their guard down, which has led to such a rise in cases. Instead of cooperating with the government, restaurants, hotels, cinema theatres, gyms etc., demanded relaxations and became super spreaders of the virus, where norms were not strictly adhered to,” Dr Giridhara R Babu pointed out.
Before the third wave hits, the government should scale up the vaccination drive though it does not ensure immunity, but reduces the severity of cases and case fatality rate, Dr Babu suggested.
Private Hospitals And Nursing homes Association (PHANA) president-elect Dr Govindaiah Yatish said the reason for such a sharp rise in cases, especially in Bengaluru, is because of the highly infective nature of the mutant strains of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
Even as the virus mutants were spreading, people had already become casual after the first wave had waned. They became over-confident, and the government also let its guard down, which lead to the surge in cases. Along with the system, citizens are also to blame.
“There is no harm (in having another lockdown), one will not lose anything by staying at home for two months. There is no need to step out, unless absolutely essential. Even during this weekend lockdown and night curfew, instead of cooperating with the government, many sectors demanded relaxations.
And mind you, it is these sectors which were the super spreaders of the virus like eateries, tea joints, cigarette vendors and so on,” he said. “Other states and countries too have opted for lockdowns to increase facilities and break the chain to control the second wave,” Dr Yatish noted.
Senior government doctors involved in management of quarantine and home isolation during the first wave, told TNIE on condition of anonymity that it was the Stat e-Government which failed at every step.
“They became complacent in testing and tracking. Earlier, the thrust was on Covid care centres (CCCs). Now, the thrust is on home isolation, but there is no watch on the (home isolated) person. He or she is becoming a super spreader as they are seen moving around from the third to fifth day of infection instead of being in home isolation for 17 days,” said a frustrated senior doctor. Another expert warned, “If the situation continues this way, then in four to five months’ time, at least 60 per cent of the city’s population will be infected!”
Bengaluru likely under full lockdown till May 5
A complete lockdown in Bengaluru is likely from April 26 evening to May 5 morning, according to sources in the government.
Thereafter, an extension till May 20 is also being considered, if necessary. A final decision will be taken by the CM after consultations with the Centre on Monday after the cabinet meeting, the sources said.