BENGALURU: The number of Covid-19 positive cases in Karnataka, especially in the state capital, has surged in the last few days with Saturday alone adding a record daily high of 918 cases, triggering apprehension among people. But Additional Chief Secretary, Health Department, Jawaid Akhtar, spearheading Karnataka’s fight against Covid, says the situation is firmly under control and the government is taking all measures to fight the pandemic.
Why is there a surge in positive cases in the state?
Unlock 1.0 has led to an influx of people. The state has also been active in finding of cases. A house-to-house survey has been taken up with about 95 per cent of the work already completed. Information has been collected on the health status, comorbidity and age details. Influenza Like Illness (ILI) cases have also been identified. We are gathering statistics from private institutions on ILI/SARI cases and also from dispensaries on people buying medicines for fever, on a daily basis. All this information is helping us take up targeted testing. All SARI cases, ILI with co-morbid conditions and elderly are being tested. Additionally, low-risk ILI cases are being tested on physicians’ advice.
The numbers in Bengaluru are increasing.
It is a big city with 1.2-crore population. Four to five weeks ago the numbers were lesser than even many districts. Compared to other metros like Chennai, Mumbai or Delhi, the numbers in Bengaluru are far less. Bengaluru is home to a large number of IT, and other companies. Professionals here are mobile which has also contributed to the numbers. The situation is fully under control. The state machinery has been integrated with the BBMP and is working seamlessly. Eighteen teams headed by senior IAS officers and embedded with BBMP officers are driving specific activities.
The source of infection in many cases is unknown. Are we in community transmission phase?
This will not fit into the community spread classification. If infection case ratio is very high, it points to missed cases and one of the major reasons could be community transmission — meaning, contacts are not identifiable for a large number of cases. That is not the case in Karnataka, including in Bengaluru. Even as per WHO’s definition, we are not in community transmission stage.
Why is mortality rate high in Bengaluru?
Karnataka stands at the 13th spot with 1.6% mortality rate as compared to the national average of 3.1%. However, the rate has risen in Bengaluru during the last week. A team headed by the RGUHS vice-chancellor is conducting a death audit. Delay in bringing patients to proper hospitals and testing for Covid are the major reasons for high morbidity in Bengaluru. Now, if any patient at a private hospital is tested positive, he/she should continue to be treated at the same hospital if the facilities are available.
Has the virus mutated or become more virulent?
No. In Karnataka the virus is being sequenced continuously and there is no evidence that the virus has mutated and become more virulent.
Do we have enough beds and ventilators as there were complaints about patients not finding beds?
Over the last three months, we have been working on upgrading health facilities. In hospitals that come under the Health Department we have increased the number of oxygenated beds and we are working with district administrations to increase it further. We have already initiated measures to procure ventilators, as because of short supply, it takes a long time to buy ventilators. The Medical Education Department too has procured 143 high-end ventilators for teaching hospitals that are functioning as Covid Hospitals, and Health Department has another 153. Another 500 ventilators are on the way. We have a new project to ensure that each district hospital has a minimum 125 beds with high-flow oxygen and each taluk hospital 50 beds. Suffice it is to say that action was initiated three months ago to upgrade infrastructure.