Bengaluru Buzz: No to cremations at landfill | Vaccine wait longer for 18+ | Search for beds, oxygen … and more

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

No to crematorium in landfill

The BBMP’s proposal to create an ‘open crematorium’ at Mavallipura land-fill has angered many in the village and surrounding areas. Villagers have started a dharna at the landfill site, even as work started to create a temporary cremation ground for COVID victims for the next two months. On Wednesday afternoon, police and revenue officials visited the landfill site in Mavallipura, on the city outskirts, to inspect and start preparations. Clearly, appeals by villagers did not deter the site-visit.

Activists of the Environment Support Group said that the Karnataka High Court has ordered the BBMP to take up biomining in the abandoned landfill to decontaminate it. It urged the government to treat the COVID victims with respect and said that a crematorium will lure scavenging birds and risk the safety of IAF trainee pilots.

Source: The New Indian Express, Deccan Herald

Longer wait for 18 – 45 year-olds

The vaccination drive for people in the age group of 18-45 will not begin from May 1. Those aged between 18 to 44 years need to register on the Co-WIN portal and wait for the government to inform them once new stocks of the vaccine arrive. Out of around 99.5 lakh doses that Karnataka received ever since vaccinations began in January, more than 95 lakh doses have been administered. The vaccine wastage percentage is around 1.4 per cent, it is said.

The Centre followed by the State government announced that the vaccination drive for people aged 18-44 years would be taken up from May 1. Sources said that a third vaccine was being introduced, other than Covishield and Covaxin. It has been reported that pharmaceutical companies are enhancing their production capacity to meet the increased demand.

Representational image

The BBMP’s ‘Apthamitra’ Covid helpline 14410, had 60 lines earlier and now has 400. However, there are several complaints that calls never go through. BBMP Chief Commissioner Gaurav Gupta said the helplines had been augmented to meet the sudden spurt in calls. He said a recent audit of the helplines had revealed gaps. They have approached companies such as Infosys and ITC to help with resources and manpower and also personnel who can answer calls from their homes.

Bengaluru Urban district on Thursday saw 19,637 fresh infections and 143 deaths. The number of discharges were 6,128. There were 1,75,816 tests on Thursday, including 1,60,698 using the RT-PCR, pushing the total tests done so far to 2.54 crore. More than 93.63 lakh people have been inoculated so far.

Source: Deccan Herald, Indian Express

Search for beds, oxygen, ‘missing’ patients

Citizens are struggling to find beds in hospitals. The BBMP administration has admitted that High Dependency Unit (HDU) and Intensive Care Unit (ICU) beds are limited, though the number of beds with oxygen had been increased.

The civic body has also been cracking down on private laboratories that have not been uploading COVID-19 test results on the Indian Council of Medical Research portal. So far, six private labs have been shut down.

The demand for medical oxygen, which is higher during the second wave, is reaching a critical state. Doctors attributed the trend to mutations, high infectivity and delayed reporting. There is no data to compare the usage of medical oxygen, but doctors said the overall volume of infected persons and rapidity of the surge has made oxygen scarce.

Bengaluru hospitals have been frantically trying to procure oxygen over the past few weeks. Representational image: UNICEF Ethiopia/Mersha (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

The government decided to follow a syndromic approach to issue patient numbers for hospitalisation and treatment, based on the authorisation of doctors, said Health and Medical Education Minister K Sudhakar. This is because there are several instances of lab test results throwing up false-negatives (even while the patient has Covid-19 symptoms or CT scan has detected infection).  He added that the change in approach was made because patients cannot be admitted to hospitals without a patient number, which is given only after testing positive.

Meanwhile, about 3,000 infected people have gone missing, while many have switched off their phones. The government has now tasked the police with tracing them. Revenue Minister R Ashoka claimed that the missing people are spreading the disease, and that the police have been asked to trace them. Health Minister Dr K Sudhakar said the issue of the infected going missing has been reported for the past year.

Source: The Hindu, The New Indian Express

Pourakarmikas demand masks

BBMP’s sanitation workers, including those deployed to collect medical waste, have alleged that they have not been provided sufficient safety masks or gloves despite raising a demand with the authorities. As there is no public transport in the lockdown either, the pourakarmikas appealed that they required transportation facilities to get to work.

Source: Indian Express, Deccan Herald

Adding beds, oxygen capacity

There are 14 COVID-19 Care Centres (CCCs) set up by the BBMP (Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike), some in association with private hotels and companies, such as HAL and BOSCH. Of the 2,054 beds available, just around 18% beds are occupied. The government has directed the BBMP to ensure that at least 10% of total beds in CCCs are oxygenated. War room reports say that over the past week, over 95% of those who have tested positive have been placed in home isolation, while 4.75% have been admitted to various hospitals and just 0.12% have been admitted in various CCCs.

The BBMP has turned the Government Maternity Hospital at Wilson Garden into a 25-bed transit oxygen delivery centre. It will act as a first-aid centre for patients with reduced oxygen saturation levels. To improve saturation levels, the transit centre will also treat decongestion in the lungs. Sources said that they will admit patients with oxygen levels as low as 85%.

Hospital beds

The oxygen plant in the RWF (Rail Wheel Factory) at Yelahanka will supply a huge quantum of oxygen to government hospitals following a request from the Karnataka Drugs Control Department. The plant can fill up a maximum of 104 cylinders a day, filling up six cylinders (7 cubic meter capacity) an hour.

To increase the beds for Covid-19 patients, the government has converted the Ambedkar Medical College into a dedicated Covid hospital.

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

Citizens in the frontline

Large housing societies and apartments are turning their club houses into EMRs (Emergency Medical Rooms), with medical equipment to stabilise patients with mild to moderate breathing problems. Fully functional EMRs are set up at apartment clubhouses to provide care for COVID-19 patients and report mild to moderate breathlessness. The room is equipped with two or more beds, oxygen concentrator, nebulisers, CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machines and other infrastructure.

Theatre persons have turned volunteers and frontline workers. Raising funds to help those in need, these artistes cook and distribute food packets to slums, migrant workers, pourakarmikas and others. They have even taken up feeding street dogs.

Source: Deccan Herald

Property tax discount continues

BBMP on Thursday extended the deadline to avail discount on property tax by a month, to May 31. In an earlier order, the Palike had set April 30 as the deadline to avail a 5% discount on paying the property tax on time. It has now extended the deadline due to the COVID-19 situation and the curfew that has prevented people to take advantage of the discount offer.

Source: Deccan Herald

[Compiled by Revathi Siva Kumar]

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