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Karnataka: As Covid-19 cases rise, doctors say need more contact-tracing, ICU beds, ventilators

Amid reports of patients being turned away, private hospitals in Bengaluru say full to capacity, lack manpower.

Written by Ralph Alex Arakal | Bangalore | Updated: July 8, 2020 8:35:28 am
Karnataka coronavirus updates, Bangalore coronavirus updates, Karnataka covid latest news, Bangalore covid latest news, Karnataka covid cases rising, bangalore corona hospitals, indian express, Bengaluru news, Bangalore news Doctors said primary and secondary contacts of Covid-19 patients often don’t come for testing till it is too late. (Express photo for representation: Amit Chakravarty)

With Covid-19 cases and fatalities in Karnataka on the rise, doctors in Bengaluru say the state government needs to restructure its strategy to fight the pandemic, with enhanced contact-tracing, more oxygen beds, Intensive Care Unit (ICU) facilities and ventilators the need of the hour.

Follow Karnataka, Bengaluru Coronavirus Live Updates

“While asymptomatic cases may not need beds and can be treated at home, most symptomatic cases need facilities like adequate oxygen supply, ICU, and ventilators for effective treatment,” Dr Suriraju V, Managing Director (MD) of Regal Hospital in Chokkanahalli, said.

Dr. Taha Mateen, MD of HBS Hospital in Shivajinagar, said the per capita ventilator number in government hospitals remains “shamefully low.”

“While the demand for oxygen beds and ICUs is clear, how many did we create in the last six months? We need ventilators, Bipap ventilators, and HFN Cannulas. The per capita ventilator number in government hospitals is shamefully low. Further, advanced medicines like Tocilizumab and Remdesivir are also required,” he said.

Earlier on Sunday, a video by Dr. Mateen on the lack of enough healthcare professionals had gone viral.

Doctors further said the state was falling short in adequately testing, tracking, and isolating contacts and probable patients.

By Tuesday, Karnataka had reported a cumulative 25,317 Covid-19 cases and 401 deaths, almost eight times what it recorded till June 1 (3,408 total cases, 52 deaths).

“A central government admission process to send patients to various private hospitals was mooted, but it appears to have gone nowhere. Since we are in a red zone, our capacity is beyond full now,” Dr. Jagadish Hiremath, of ACE Suhas Hospital in Jigani, told Indianexpress.com.

He added that the delay in identifying contacts (both primary and secondary) of positive cases and bringing them under proper care is the prime reason behind the spike in numbers.

“Contact tracing must be given more importance than what it is receiving now. Often, contacts of patients avoid testing and come to us only when they are in trouble,” Dr Hiremath said.

BBMP steps up contact-tracing, personnel undergo training

In a bid to enhance contact tracing in Bengaluru, BBMP Monday held a training session for over 100 members of its cluster resource team.

Karnataka coronavirus updates, Bangalore coronavirus updates The BBMP training session in progress. (Photo: Twitter/ B H Anil Kumar IAS)

According to BBMP Commissioner B H Anil Kumar, they were trained on contact-tracing methods and the use of apps for the purpose. “These members will in turn train teachers, who will augment the work done by the contact-tracing team at the ground level,” he added.

The training was led by Excise Commissioner M Lokesh and Dr. Ram Prasath, Managing Director, Rajiv Gandhi Housing Corporation Limited.

Health experts had earlier suggested that effective home quarantine of primary and secondary contacts would contribute well to containing Covid-19.

Inadequate manpower: Private hospitals face challenge

With several reports emerging from Bengaluru of private hospitals denying treatment to Covid-19 patients, Indianexpress.com reached out to some hospitals in the city.

A senior doctor of a prominent private hospital in Bengaluru said, “We have reached saturation point in admissions. With several staff members in quarantine as contacts of positive patients, not all resources available can be used to the best. The cost of managing Covid-19 cases too is enormous. It is high time the government invest more and build good hospitals, as the best doctors are already in the public sector.”

Echoing the view, Dr Mateen said the government should invoke the Essential Services and Maintenance Act (ESMA) on healthcare workers to ensure patients get good care. “We need to stop privatisation of healthcare and build a British, Swedish, or a German-like model for public healthcare,” he said.

As on July 6, Bengaluru has reported 10,561 positive cases and 155 deaths linked to the pandemic. The first Covid-19 case in Karnataka was confirmed in Bengaluru on March 8.

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