Bengaluru Buzz: Second wave subsiding | Vaccine shortage | Metro timings extended … and more

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

Second COVID wave subsiding

As the second wave subsides and hundreds of COVID beds in government facilities fall vacant, medical staff and students are anxious to switch to non-COVID duties, especially at the Bangalore Medical College and Research Centre (BMCRI), the largest government facility for COVID treatment in the city.

The number of daily cases has seen a dramatic 97% decline since the second wave peaked in April. But, the number of ICU cases has been less quick to fall. Over a seven-day period from June 20 to 27, the number of ICU cases declined by 28% from 518 to 372, but the proportion of ICU cases to overall active cases has been high. Bengaluru Urban recorded a massive drop of 23.3% in active cases, from 43,698 cases on Wednesday to 33,516 on Thursday. The district had 10,840 discharges on Thursday, and only 676 new cases.

However, the BBMP war room bulletin on June 29 showed that over the previous 10 days, cases were concentrated in 10 wards, of which seven are in Mahadevapura zone. To keep a check, BBMP has put in place a micro-plan at the ward level. It has also introduced perimeter testing, wherein households around the affected residence will be tested.

However, about 40,000 patients have remained untraceable. This happened as BBMP focused on bed allocation and vaccination during the second wave by diverting its surveillance staff who would have otherwise tracked patients.

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

Vaccine shortage

According to the BBMP, 50% of the estimated adult population in Bengaluru has already received at least one vaccine shot. But the Palike is still struggling with vaccine shortage. The shortage has become more pronounced since June 28, after BBMP held vaccination camps in 61 colleges. Meanwhile, BBMP is undertaking a door-to-door survey to identify citizens who are yet to be vaccinated and the reasons for the same.

A new COVID Vaccine Testing Centre has been launched at the viral Biosafety Level-3 (BSL-3) facility in the CIDR (Centre for Infectious Diseases Research) at the IISc (Indian Institute of Science). The centre will test solutions for COVID, such as vaccines, antiviral drugs, and also provide materials and equipment for academic and industry partners using a fee-for-service model.

Source: Deccan Herald, The Indian Express, The Times of India

Read More: Bengaluru’s COVID deaths: With June numbers still worse than April’s, has the second wave really subsided?

Official tree-felling figures suspiciously low

Citizens fighting for tree conservation claim the government is hiding information on the number of trees being axed for infrastructure projects. They demand that the Tree Officer make all tree-felling applications and responses public. 

According to the BBMP Forest Cell, 3,855 applications were filed between April 2019 and June 2021, of which only 292 have been approved for felling and 1,828 for pruning of branches. Department officials said that they were yet to compile and collate data pertaining to projects. Similarly, the Bengaluru Urban division of the Forest Department says they received 578 applications and gave permissions for only 166 in the same period.

But according to experts who had approached courts against tree felling, 60,199 trees are being affected by ongoing and proposed government projects. Though a High Court-appointed tree committee is supposed to decide on tree-felling applications, a member of the committee said they are often unaware of the applications and are not consulted.

Source: The New Indian Express

Doctors demand legal cell

The Karnataka Association of Resident Doctors (KARD) on Thursday reiterated their demand for the formation of a legal cell to avoid assaults and other untoward incidents against them. Citing over 12 incidents of “outrageous physical and psychological assaults” on health workers since the onset of COVID, they said they were demoralised and fearful. The association plans to work on the theme of ‘Zero Tolerance towards Assault Against Doctors’ this year.

Source: Indian Express

Varsities asked to vaccinate students by July 7

Vice Chancellors of universities in the state have been directed to expedite vaccination for students, and to complete the process by July 7. VCs have been given an option of extending the deadline by two to three days, if need be.

However, a day later, the government clarified that getting inoculated would not be mandatory for students to attend classes in colleges. Within BBMP limits, 19,974 students have already been jabbed.

Representational image of college students
College students are expected to be vaccinated by July 7. Representational image: University of the Fraser Valley/CC BY 2.0

From July 22, a vaccination centre will be set up on Central College campus, Bengaluru City University, for people travelling abroad. It will operate between 10.30 am and 4.30 pm.

Source: The New Indian Express, Indian Express, The Times of India, The Hindu

Public toilets too few in city

A report by the All India Institute of Local Self Government has stated that the proportion of toilets in Bengaluru is low, even though the city had been declared open defecation-free in January 2020. The report said the availability of toilets per sq km area, toilets per ward, and per 1,000 population is weak in Bengaluru compared to cities like Chennai, Hyderabad and Ahmedabad.

The report also indicates that the maintenance of community toilets is poor, which encourages open defecation. In contrast, it says the maintenance of public toilets is quite good in the city. Of the 555 public toilets in the city, 462 had been built by BBMP and the rest by private agencies.

BBMP had appointed the agency to assess the requirement for public toilets in the city. The Palike has submitted the report to the High Court in an going PIL, and the court has in turn directed it to fix issues highlighted in the report.

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

Garbage down by 17% during lockdown

The amount of garbage produced in Bengaluru had come down by 17% in May, with the closing of restaurants, food streets, markets and industries during the second COVID wave. The city used to generate 4,000-4,200 tonnes of garbage every day, prior to the lockdown. But in May, it dipped to 3,000-3,500 tonnes per day, until the second week of June.

However, the number of blackspots is proliferating. Residents say garbage left uncollected by BBMP is piling up on the streets.

Source: Deccan Herald

Read More: How the pandemic locked waste workers out of livelihoods

Namma Metro now operates 11 hours on weekdays

Namma Metro trains have started running for 11 hours – from 7 am to 6 pm – on weekdays, and the token system has been reintroduced. Weekend services will continue to be suspended. The frequency of trains, however, will be 15 minutes during the non-peak hours. Trains at five-minute frequency will be limited to peak hours in the morning and evening.

The ridership of Namma Metro had gone up from 24,602 on June 21, the first day of resuming services, to 57,713 on Tuesday. The trains would be operated with increased or decreased frequency depending on the patronage, said BMRCL (Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Limited) sources.

Source: Deccan Herald, The Times of India

[Compiled by Revathi Siva Kumar]

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