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We have enough beds in hospitals and other facilities to face third Covid wave says BBMP Chief Gaurav Gupta
The Hans India's Aksheev Thakur speaks with Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) Chief Commissioner Gaurav Gupta on the strategy adopted by the...
The Hans India's Aksheev Thakur speaks with Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) Chief Commissioner Gaurav Gupta on the strategy adopted by the civic body to tackle the second wave and if the government is prepared for the third wave. He refutes the allegations of low testing and states that the measures are being taken in a phased manner so that nobody is inconvenienced.
Would you talk a bit on how the BBMP has strategized the plan to contain the virus in the second wave. How difficult is it compared to the first wave?
The second wave was expected and some experts had also warned the government about it and there was discussion, I believe, but I was not with the BBMP then. But, the number of cases or the intensity with which the second wave would hit nobody predicted accurately. But the kind of fast spurt in cases has taken everybody by surprise not only in Karnataka, but also all over the country. I would say that the total number of cases hit an unprecedented high across the world and I don't think many people predicted this.
I would say that the last time we had around 5,000 cases in the city and then also the medical infrastructure had got stressed out a bit. Subsequently, a lot of effort was made to improve the infrastructure and the number of oxygenated beds increased substantially not only in Bengaluru but also in most of district headquarters. The oxygen capacity was augmented, particularly in the government sector and also in the private sector as well. Oxygenated beds, I am told, at the state level went up by a factor of six and the tank capacity would have gone by a factor of two to two and a half.
Because of spiraling cases, the infrastructure is inadequate to cope with the situation. One year back when I visited one of the big hospitals with 600 beds, they had only 21 ventilators or so. Since then, obviously, they would have ramped up the number of ventilators. In case of emergencies like this and for the critical cases we require a lot of ICU and ICU beds particularly because the virus, not being detected early, leads to lungs getting damaged and patients come in at the last moment and it's very difficult to save them.
Now we have set up triaging centers and Covid care centres (CCCs) in each ward which are easing the burden on hospitals. These triaging centres will help doctors understand the patient's condition and advise them whether they should stay in home isolation or get admitted to hospital or CCCs.
Was the spread of the virus in slum areas a concern during the second wave?
The spread of the virus in slums was always a concern even during the first wave and in the second wave because of the area and number of houses located in the slums. We have taken up testing in most of the slums and also had testing camps located there. Even now we are monitoring these areas and locations by the ward level officers and BBMP staff.
There is a concern over lowering of testing because of dip in the number of positive cases. Is it true?
I would like to say that we have nowhere reduced testing. Tests are being done in all places notwithstanding fall in number of Covid cases. Private diagnostic centres are seeing low walk-ins for tests. We were testing in open places, like markets and other places and that is not there right now. And we are focusing on people with comorbidities and old age people. There is no question of BBMP going slow on tests.
Under these stressful circumstances when the citizens are spending sleepless nights, how are you keeping the morale of your officials high?
Our strength is frontline workers. We have provided them with the necessary safety gear. We are always monitoring their health and our officials are working round the clock to ensure the safety of the staff. Even during the tough times when we have to put our nose to the grind stone, we have held the spirits of the staff high and we have motivated them to continue their work irrespective of criticisms. We have seen all staff working in high spirits risking their lives in this pandemic. And we appreciate their efforts and support.
Though you made it clear that BU number is not required for admission, some hospitals have been insisting on it. Any comments?
We request such patients' attenders to bring to the notice of the zonal war rooms or any officials. Now we have an option to walk straight into a triaging centre and this issue doesn't arise now.
Has BBMP come out with a plan to tackle the third wave so that the situation won't be as bad as the second wave?
We have triaging centres in all wards, and more will be set up in a phased manner. Hospitals are also increasing beds everyday and in a day at least 900-1000 beds are increased across the city. We will not face any shortage of beds for the predicted third wave. We are taking all measures and also arranging for oxygen supply. It is true that currently, the supply is not about to meet the demand in all aspects like vaccination, oxygen and beds, but these are taken care of in a phased manner.