Bengaluru Buzz: High mortality rate | Black fungus worry | Vaccines for 18+… and more

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

Highest mortality among big cities

Bengaluru recorded the highest 28-day COVID mortality with a Moving Growth Rate (MGR) of 82% during the lockdown from April 14 to May 12, according to a study by Jeevan Rakshe, conducted with technical support from the Public Health Foundation of India. The city accounted for 24% of the 17,000 deaths recorded in the six biggest Indian cities. Bengaluru was only behind Delhi, which recorded over 50% of the deaths. In terms of MGR, the national capital was second with 76%. Hence, the doubling period for death numbers is shorter than other mega cities.

In the week ending May 12, as many as 5,534 deaths occurred in the six cities. Of these, 35% were in Bengaluru (1,958). Concluding that the lockdown failed to save lives, the study says there is no linkage between strategy, people and operation processes in COVID management. Mumbai is the only mega city that reduced the seven-day MGR of positive cases, active cases and mortality.

However, Professors of the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), say that the lockdown was 80% effective in Karnataka, and recommended extending it. On Friday, the government announced a 14-day extension of the lockdown, until June 7.

A sero surveillance study in 24 Bengaluru slums have shown a sero-positivity rate of 20.3 per cent during the second wave. The study suggests that a large proportion of the population may remain either susceptible to SARS-CoV-2, or might have waning antibodies from previous infections. A rapid community survey to assess the COVID-19 burden in slums was planned as the number of cases reported from slums during the onset of the second wave was low.

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

Spike in black fungus cases

There has been an “exponential” increase in cases of Covid-Associated Mucormycosis (CAM) or black fungus over the last 10 days. Also, the all-important anti-fungal drug Liposomal Amphotericin or Amphotericin-B has gone out of stock. Some hospitals are either using alternative drugs, which may not be as effective as Amphotericin-B or are using plain Amphotericin, which is nephro-toxic and has the potential to damage the kidneys. Some private hospitals, which have operated upon CAM patients, are frantically looking for Amphotericin-B and even calling government and government hospitals for some vials.

The government had earmarked 10 beds at the Bowring and Lady Curzon Medical College and Research Institute for COVID-19-associated mucormycosis (CAM), which filled up within hours on Wednesday.

Source: The New Indian Express, The Hindu

Vaccines for 18+ category

Vaccination for people in the 18-44 age group will resume from May 22. The State government-identified frontline workers and priority groups will be vaccinated first, said Health and Medical Education Minister K Sudhakar. Deputy Commissioners at the district level and BBMP Chief Commissioner will be in charge of vaccination, while workplace vaccination will be the mode of implementation.

BBMP Chief Commissioner Gaurav Gupta said vaccination supply had been hit in some parts of the city. Priority will be given to those in the 45+ age group for the first dose, and not for those waiting for the second dose of Covaxin and Covishield, as the dose interval has been increased to 12 months. Gupta clarified that the vaccination drive will be kept out of PHCs and hospitals, and will be carried out in schools, parks, colleges and playgrounds.

Representational image

The aim is to vaccinate everyone by October or November end. Two lakh doses of Covishield are expected from the Pune-based Serum Institute of India. About 140 healthcare workers vaccinated with Covishield at Sri Jayadeva Institute of Cardiovascular Sciences and Research (SJICR) with a four-week interval went through ELISA or enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. The test revealed 78 per cent (or 109) of them to have good immunogenic response.

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

Problems for triage centres

BBMP (Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike) has set up 48 CCCs and physical triage centres across eight zones. Of the 2,714 beds in these facilities, 860 are oxygenated and the remaining are regular beds. BBMP Joint Commissioner (Solid Waste Management) Sarfaraz Khan said that all these facilities had been established by the civic body. There is misinformation and unverified updates by private citizens and NGOs about the availability of beds through the triage and COVID-19 Care Centres (CCCs) , he said.

However, five days after the BBMP opened 32 physical triage centres and publicised the phone numbers of nodal officers and hotlines, many nodal officers did not respond. The triage centres were opened on Friday to solve the hospital bed crisis and to detect critical cases at the initial stage. Any COVID-19 patient walking into the centre will be evaluated by a team of doctors to decide on the next line of treatment or admission to tertiary care hospitals for advanced treatment. But five days after they were opened, not many patients turned up for triaging, though the city has been reporting more than 8,000 new infections a day. Two of the 32 triage centres are yet to be functional.

Source: The Hindu, Deccan Herald

Nod for IISc test kit

A COVID-19 testing technique, incubated by the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), will help detect the presence and response of antibodies acting against the Coronavirus, even after vaccination. The testing technique is developed by PathShodh Healthcare, and is a first-of-its-kind, semi-quantitative electrochemical ELISA test for COVID-19 IgM and IgG antibodies. PathShodh has received the license to manufacture the test kits from the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO).

Source: Indian Express, Deccan Herald

Purple Line length increases

The BMRCL (Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Limited Thursday announced that the launch of the second line of Metro Phase-II between Mysuru Road and Kengeri will be postponed to July, due to the pandemic and the resultant labour shortage.

The Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Limited’s commercial operations between Mysore Road and Kengeri, on the Purple Line, is due to begin in June, after the present lockdown comes to an end. The Reach-2 Extension Line, of 7.53 kms with six stations — Nayandahalli, Rajarajeshwari Nagar, Jnanabharathi, Pattanagere, Kengeri Bus Terminal, and Kengeri — will have a travel time of 15 minutes. The new stretch will be the first to have AFC (automated fare collection) system compatible with NCMC (National Common Mobility Card) and QR code scanners. A passenger would have to pay Rs 56 to travel between Baiyappanahalli and Kengeri –– the two stations located at different ends of the Purple Line. BMRCL hoped that the extension will bring additional daily ridership of 75,000, an estimate made before the pandemic hit the city.

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

Panel for education policy guidelines

The government will constitute an expert panel to frame guidelines for primary and secondary education for the upcoming 2021-22 academic year. It will oversee the assessment models, online and offline education, teacher training methodology, pragmatic utilisation of budgetary resources and related issues. The committee will comprise educationists, health experts, representatives from the IISc, NIMHANS, child specialists, and the TAC (technical advisory committee), representatives of parents, private schools and teacher associations. Teacher recruitment will be expedited by completing the formality of the Cadre and Recruitment Amendment. Arrangements will be made to ensure that textbooks would reach children within two months.

Source: Indian Express

[Compiled by Revathi Siva Kumar]

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