IT city is sick! One in three people is COVID-19 positive in Bengaluru

Once the pride of India and an envy of the developed world, the nation’s Silicon Valley today resembles a ghost city. Covid-19 has flattened the city’s pride and made it one of the most dangerous cities to be in. The city’s ‘motherboard’ on which the IT sector boomed has crashed. Reports indicate that one in three people in Bengaluru is Covid positive.

Apart from the virus, there is acute shortage of beds. A lady had to go and stand in front of Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa’s house begging for a bed for her husband who was in an ambulance just behind her gasping for breath. Even as a bed was allotted, the patient died on the way.

Similarly, a Covid-19 patient who was being shifted from Bengaluru to a hospital in Chikkaballapur due to non-availability of beds in the capital city died early Thursday after her oxygen supply in the ambulance reportedly ran out. Earlier, her family had in vain searched for an ICU bed in the tech capital for three days.

The 75-year-old woman had tested positive last week and was advised home isolation. However, her oxygen level started to dip. “Family members had arranged oxygen at home for her. After her condition worsened, they desperately tried to find an ICU bed in the city, contacting several hospitals,” Kamran, a Covid volunteer who mobilises resources for patients, was quoted in the media. Kamran had been helping the woman, the mother of his Canada-based friend.

Most hospitals reportedly said they had no vacant beds in their intensive care units. The family members then arranged a hospital bed in Chikkaballapur, their native place, and decided to shift her there in an ambulance.

“They rushed here as her condition was deteriorating. Sadly, the oxygen cylinder they were carrying became empty 30 to 45 minutes before the destination. When they reached the hospital, she was pronounced dead,” said Kamran.

Such cases are not an exception. Pathetic stories of people falling dead gasping for breath are on the rise. With a surge in cases, many patients in Bengaluru are unable to get hospital beds. Most of them are driven away at the gate of the hospitals. The shortage of medical oxygen has compounded the problems. Patients with severe infection are dying while searching for a bed in Bengaluru.

Admitted Gaurav Gupta, BBMP (Civic Body) chief commissioner: “The stress on the healthcare system is unprecedented and it has pushed the infrastructure we have to the limits. Given the number of cases and the logistic issues hampering oxygen supply, we need to manage moderate cases and ensure that their condition does not deteriorate. We are in talks with international donors to add more concentrators, while the state has also decided to procure concentrators in large numbers.

Dr Giridhara Babu, member, Technical Advisory Committee on Covid, said: “When there’s such a surge that overwhelms the system, there’s a vicious cycle: Those in ICUs cannot be discharged quickly, which means the condition of dozens of moderately ill people could deteriorate because of lack of specialised treatment. This leads to more deaths. We must break the chain. To do this we need restrictions and we must look at managing the moderately ill. There’s a lot of work to do.”

While hospital beds are not available, crematoria in the city are working round the clock to clear the huge line of dead bodies lined up on the road. Authorities have introduced a token system to cremate the dead.

Amidst all this, there is a paralysis in the administration. Karnataka health minister K Sudhakar Thursday admitted that the two week ‘Janata Curfew’ has not had the desired effect in stopping the surge of Covid cases.

It is not just Bengaluru. A grim situation stares at districts adjoining the capital city. Cases in Bengaluru Rural, Tumakuru and Mysuru are on the rise even as there are reports that the state is grossly under-reporting cases of Covid-related deaths. Cases are on the rise in Hassana, Dakshina Kannada, Ballari, Kalburgi and other districts.

The state, which on Friday saw an all-time single day high of 592 deaths — 346 in Bengaluru alone — is likely to see a further increase in fatalities in the coming weeks, experts say.

On the vaccine front, the situation is no different. The vaccine availability scenario is shocking to say the least, the Karnataka high court observed on Thursday, directing the state to immediately submit the indent/requisition to the authority concerned in the central government for supply of required quantities of doses.

A special division bench comprising Chief Justice Abhay Shreeniwas Oka and Justice Aravind Kumar gave this direction after perusing the state government’s written submission.

The bench pointed that as per the submission, from the 1,08,49,470 vaccine doses received, 83,28,241 persons have been administered the first dose and 17,44,554 the second dose, and the availability is around 7.7 lakh doses.

It noted that doses should first be given to those beneficiaries who’ve taken the first jab and for whom the requisite period for the second one as per the Centre’s notification is likely to expire. The second category which can be given priority includes frontline and health workers.

The administration is clueless what to do as Covid cases are on a steep rise. Experts say the May will prove crucial as the infections are likely to peak resulting in more fatalities.

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