Bengaluru Buzz: Covid deaths spike | Shortage of hospital beds | Karaga procession cancelled … and more

Catch up on news from the city this week, in our roundup.

Covid deaths spike

On Thursday, Bengaluru’s Covid fatalities shot up to 66. Such high daily fatality was reported the last time on October 20, 2020. Official sources said deaths were increasing as patients were arriving at hospitals in the later stages of the disease.

The cumulative Covid caseload surpassed the five-lakh-mark on Wednesday. On Thursday, there were 10,497 new cases from Bengaluru Urban.

Source: Deccan Herald, Indian Express, The Hindu

Shortage of hospital beds, drugs, vaccines

Private hospitals, mainly small and medium-size ones, are reporting an acute shortage of Remdesivir which is used to treat Covid patients. PHANA (Private Hospitals and Nursing Homes Association) has written to the State Health Department, requesting supply of the drug, especially to smaller hospitals. There is also an acute shortage of oxygen and its price has shot up by 20% to 30%.

Patients are reeling due to the lack of hospital beds as well. Almost 74% of all available Covid beds were occupied as of 3 pm on Thursday, including 89% of ICU beds and 91% of ICU ventilator beds. However, the BBMP-built Charaka Super Specialty Hospital in Shivajinagar has remained unused over the last few weeks because of the lack of staff.

Many patients have been turned away from government hospitals which insisted on a Bangalore Urban (BU) code, even though a year-old circular had said that patients cannot be refused admission for this reason.

Some government and private hospitals ran out of vaccines on Thursday, and were forced to turn people away. Bowring and Lady Curzon Hospital did not inoculate anyone on Thursday as they had zero stock, according to officials. KC General Hospital and CV Raman General Hospital have run out of Covaxin, and are offering only Covishield.

Source: Deccan Herald, Indian Express, The Hindu, Bangalore Mirror

280 crematorium workers unpaid for a year

About 280 workers at BBMP crematoriums, who have been burying or cremating Covid victims, say they haven’t been paid for a year. In spite of protests and meetings with officials, the workers allege they are not considered frontline workers and hence have not received vaccines.

The personnel are supposed to change their PPE kits after every cremation. But due to lack of supply, they are forced to cremate two or three bodies wearing the same PPE kit. A worker said that other essentials like gloves, sanitisers and masks are also not supplied on time. Further, BBMP had assured it would pay Rs 500 for cremation of Covid victims. But the personnel themselves spend Rs 1,000 per cremation at times, and are yet to be reimbursed for this.

The current Covid surge and deaths are putting crematoriums under pressure. Of the 12 electric crematoriums in the city, five – Lakshmipura Cross, Summnahalli, Kengeri, Bommnahalli and Panattur – are dedicated for cremating Covid victims. While each crematorium is getting more than 20 bodies a day, it takes an hour to cremate a body, said a source from the Ambedkar Dalit Sangharsha Samithi. BBMP officials are asking citizens to book slots for cremation online.

Source: Indian Express, Deccan Herald, The New Indian Express

More measures to tackle Covid

State government’s Covid TAC (Technical advisory committee) will submit a report on the increasing cases as well as containment measures. The number of telephone lines operated by the BBMP will be doubled from six to 12 soon, to help citizens access the 24-hour helpline better. Kumbh Mela returnees have been told to undergo RT-PCR testing and self-isolation at home.

Government hospitals have been instructed to reserve more beds for Covid patients, while private hospitals have to reserve 50% of their beds. Strict action will be taken against those who do not co-operate, warned Health & Medical Education Minister Dr K Sudhakar. However, a week after the BBMP pledged to take over half of private hospital beds, it has been able to take possession of only 2,500 out of the total of 6,000 beds.

BBMP said it would soon set up 10 more Covid Care Centres (CCCs) to treat asymptomatic patients. About 400 doctors have been transferred from the Medical Education Department to the Health Department. Pourakarmikas received safety vests, new uniforms and equipment at the commemoration of Dr B R Ambedkar’s 130th birth anniversary.

Meanwhile, owners of hotels, restaurants, and pubs have demanded a slash in property taxes, fixed charges in electricity bills, and in excise license rates to help them survive. They also demanded 50% exemption in license charges of the Pollution Control Board, and charges levied as per the Karnataka Shops and Establishment Act. 

Source: Indian Express, Deccan Herald

No Karaga procession this year

The grand Karaga procession has been cancelled this year. Celebrations would be restricted to the Dharmaraya Swamy Temple in Thigalarpet, as was the case last year. In the past two weeks, the Dharmaraya Swamy Temple ward reported over 300 cases of Covid.

Ugadi saw large crowds around shopping centres. With many rushing to leave the city, roads leading to outskirts such as Tumkuru Road, Mysuru Road, Magadi Road and Sarjapura Road were jam-packed.

In the Ramadan season, mosques in containment zones have been told to remain closed till the zones are de-notified. Mosques outside containment zones will be allowed to open, but large gatherings are prohibited, and social distancing, thermal screening and sanitisation at regular intervals is compulsory.

Source: The New Indian Express, Deccan Herald

Protesters damage KSRTC buses

Around 62 state road transport corporation buses were damaged when protesting workers pelted stones at them between April 7 and 15, according to the Karnataka road transport corporations. Since April 7, workers of the BMTC and other transport corporations under KSRTC have been on an indefinite strike demanding salaries as per the 6th Pay Commission. Across the state, some bus crews were also allegedly attacked by their colleagues on strike.

Source: Indian Express, The Hindu

SSLC, II-Year PU exams not cancelled

The State Education Department has clarified that it will go ahead with the offline format of SSLC (Secondary School Leaving Certificate) and II-Year PU (Pre-University) exams. There is no proposal to cancel them despite the CBSE canceling Class 10 exams and postponing Class 12 exams.

Source: Bangalore Mirror

[Compiled by Revathi Siva Kumar]

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