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Thursday, August 13, 2020

Karnataka yet to achieve self-set target of 35,000 daily Covid-19 antigen tests; testing to be enhanced in Bengaluru

Meanwhile, Medical Education Minister Sudhakar stressed that those private hospitals which fail to cooperate with the government to combat the pandemic would face “strict action”.

Written by Ralph Alex Arakal | Bengaluru | Updated: July 31, 2020 8:45:50 am
karnataka covid cases, covid testing in bengaluru Bengaluru: Health workers collects sample from a person for COVID-19 test via Rapid Antigen Testing in a slum area in Bengaluru, Tuesday, July 28, 2020. (PTI Photo/Shailendra Bhojak)

In view of the daily rise in fresh cases reported from Bengaluru, the Karnataka government Thursday decided to ramp up testing across all eight Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) zones in the city.

Confirming this, Medical Education Minister Dr Sudhakar said, “The government is taking all measures to ramp up testing across zones in Bengaluru. This will enable faster tracing and treatment of the infected persons.”

As per the latest numbers issued by the Department of Health and Family Welfare Services, a cumulative 53,324 people in the capital city have tested COVID-19 positive.

After a dip in daily testing numbers in Bengaluru on July 26 (5,930), the most number of tests in the city were done the next day — on July 27 (10,176). The minister, after holding a video conference with senior officials to review COVID-19 management in the city, said the numbers will be enhanced further.

Medical Education Minister Dr Sudhakar (right) during the video conferencing on Thursday.

Meanwhile, the health department informed that 20,488 rapid antigen detection tests were done on Thursday, across 30 districts of the state. This is far from the target set by the government earlier this month, when Sudhakar had announced that the state was aiming to conduct 35,000 antigen tests daily.

“In order to ramp up testing in containment zones, two lakh rapid Antigen test kits have been procured and supplied to all districts across the state,” the minister had said.

Strict action against private hospitals charging more, denying treatment

Sudhakar stressed that those private hospitals which fail to cooperate with the government to combat the pandemic would face “strict action”.

“There has been several instances of private hospitals charging excess amount from patients and refusing treatment, as being reported. Joint Commissioners of all zones are empowered under Disaster Management Act and KPME Act to take action against such hospitals,” he said.

The minister added that the joint commissioners shall also seek assistance from the police department, if needed.

Sanitation workers to get PPE kits, regular health monitoring, insurance benefits

Sanitation workers in Bengaluru and other parts of Karnataka can now avail benefits from the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana or the state government’s insurance scheme, an government order issued Wednesday stated.

“In the case of untimely death of pourakarmikas during this pandemic, they are entitled to benefits under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana or the insurance scheme of the State Government,” the order issued by Karnataka Health Commissioner Pankaj Kumar Pandey read.

The order further said, “Pourakarmikas working in COVID-19-related duties like disposal of biomedical waste management, etc. shall be given PPE, gloves, gumboots, masks, etc. as per protocol of Health Department by the District Administration/BBMP.”

Also read | ASHA workers, BBMP pourakarmikas stage protests for better working conditions, health cover

In addition to this, their health status will be monitored using thermal scanners and pulse oximeters on a daily basis at the ward level. Those found unwell will be subjected to rapid antigen or RT-PCR tests and arrangements will be made to shift them to medical facilities if required.

Last week, the Karnataka High Court had directed the BBMP to check whether these schemes were applicable to sanitation workers, known locally as pourakarmikas. The high court direction came on a batch of public interest litigations (PILs) on the safety and welfare of these workers.

Also read | COVID-19 claims life of third BBMP pourakarmika within a week, kin alleges delayed treatment

In response, BBMP informed that a compensation of Rs 10 lakh each was given to the families of four pourakarmikas who succumbed to coronavirus infection.

As on July 30, Karnataka has cumulatively reported 1,18,632 Covid-19 cases, of which 45 per cent is from Bengaluru alone. With the health department linking 22 more fatalities that took place in the last few days to the pandemic, the death toll in the city rose to 1009 on Thursday.

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