Bengaluru Buzz: Movement restrictions | Crematoriums overburdened | Bus strike called off … and more

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

Restrictions on movement until May 4

As the night curfew was intensified in Bengaluru, the police have shut down major roads, flyovers and main traffic circles. Only essential supply vehicles are permitted until May 4. The prohibitory orders under Section 144 (1) of CrPC bans the gathering of more than four people in public places, except bus terminals, metro and railway stations, and airports. The government has also imposed a weekend lockdown until May 4.

Until May 4, only state/central government employees involved in essential COVID services can move unrestricted. Those who are part of industries and organisations requiring 24X7 operations and those deployed in essential services will be allowed to move, and would have to provide valid IDs issued by their employer. Essential staff of IT/ITeS companies can work from office, whereas others have to work from home. Those travelling from and to the state must carry relevant proof such as tickets. Neighbourhood shops dealing with groceries will get a four-hour window from 6 am to 10 am to operate on Saturdays and Sundays. Online delivery of essential items are permitted throughout the lockdown.

Source: Deccan Herald

Official COVID death figures suspect

Cremations have been continuing non-stop over the past week at many of the city crematoriums, casting doubt on the government’s COVID death figures. Last rites of close to 500 victims were performed in just two crematoriums, which makes the official figure of 752 deaths this month suspect.

While seven crematoriums are operational in the city, the government has decided to open more. A four-acre land in Tavarekere will be opened to reduce the queues at other crematoriums. Borewells have been drilled, power lines have been drawn and 20 loads of firewood have been stocked up here.

The BBMP, which manages all graveyards and crematoria in the city, blamed private hospitals for the rush at crematoriums. It said the hospitals were releasing bodies for cremation or burial post-noon. Private Hospitals and Nursing Homes’ Association (PHANA), however, accused the civic body of delay in picking up bodies.

Source: Deccan Herald, The Hindu

Vaccine shortage

Many vaccination centres in private and government-run medical facilities are turning away beneficiaries due to shortage. At many PHCs, those coming for the first jab are being turned away, as priority is given to senior citizens who are in line for their second dose. The worry has increased after the union government announced that those aged above 18 years can get the vaccine.

Read more: Struggling to book or reschedule a slot for the COVID vaccine? Read this

Dr Arundati Chandrashekhar, Mission Director, National Health Mission, said that there was no shortage of vaccines. About 98,000 doses of Covishield and 30,000 doses of Covaxin were available, and the city would get one lakh doses more. On average, 30,000-40,000 people are vaccinated everyday, she added.

Source: The New Indian Express

Shortage of ICU beds

While there is no shortage of normal beds in hospitals and COVID Care Centres (CCCs), there is a shortage of ICU beds, BBMP Chief Commissioner Gaurav Gupta said. Arrangements to shift COVID patients to the required medical centres has been decentralised to eight zonal war rooms. Zonal officials have also been directed to open the 10 listed CCCs at the earliest, and also to find smaller spaces for CCCs in various wards.

How many COVID beds does Bangalore really have?
Many patients are left to wander the city in search of COIVID beds. Credit: Peter Richmond

At 9.15 am on Friday, the city had only nine ICU beds and six ICU-ventilator beds unoccupied across all hospitals and medical colleges. In total, 6,407 beds out of 7,816 beds earmarked for COVID patients in Bengaluru (Urban and Rural) were occupied.

State government has ordered that private hospitals should reserve 80% beds – except emergency beds, mother and childcare beds and dialysis beds – for government-referred COVID patients. The government issued notices to 66 hospitals, including Fortis, Apollo and Aaxis, asking them why they have not reserved beds, or shared or uploaded data on the BBMP portal.

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

Bus strike called off

On April 21, buses started pulling into major bus stands after employees of BMTC and other road transport corporations (RTCs) called off their indefinite strike. As the strike entered the 15th day, Honorary President of the KSRTC Employees League, Kodihalli Chandrashekar, announced they were postponing the stir. The day before, the High Court had said that the strike amid COVID violated the fundamental rights of other citizens.

Read more: Provide accessible, low-cost bus services for all, urge Bengaluru’s bus users

KSRTC on Thursday told the High Court that it can operate 100% bus schedules despite dismissing and suspending some employees for resorting to strike, as it was not operating a large number of air-conditioned buses.

Source: The Hindu

VTU to continue offline exams

VTU (Visvesvaraya Technological University) has decided to hold the remaining exams for first-semester engineering students. But as the government announced new measures such as a weekend curfew and extended night curfew timings till May 4, the decision has not gone down well with many students. However, concerned about losing out on the academic schedule, most students said they had to “forcefully consent” to the varsity’s decision.

Bengaluru City University has postponed classes for semesters 2, 4, and 6 from April 20 to May 3. The university has also indefinitely postponed exams for semesters 3 and 5 of MCA course, and semester 3 exams for M.Ed course, which were to commence from April 21. Bangalore North University has indefinitely postponed all its undergraduate, post graduate, B.Ed and MBA examinations which were to be held in April.

Source: The New Indian Express, Indian Express

BDA property tax payment on from May 1 only

With the property tax website being upgraded, property owners have not yet been able to pay this financial year’s taxes to the BDA (Bengaluru Development Authority). BDA Public Relations Officer Girish L P said the system is being updated to add the revised property rates, and that citizens can start online payments from May 1. BDA collects an average of Rs 26 crore property tax from its 1,02,000 sites, said a senior official.

Source: The New Indian Express

[Compiled by Revathi Siva Kumar]

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