Updated: April 10, 2021 11:50:52 am
Even as capital city Bengaluru continues to drive the Covid-19 surge during the second wave in Karnataka, official data identified four other districts — Kalaburagi, Mysuru, Bidar and Tumakuru — as contributors to the overall caseload with a high incidence of new cases and fatalities.
Among them, Kalaburagi has reported 1,668 new cases and 17 deaths since April 2021 started. Speaking to Indianexpress.com, Kalaburagi DHO Dr Rajashekhar Mali blamed “a sense of complacency” among the general public in the district for the recent surge. “We have been continuously requesting people to avoid unnecessary travel and meetings even when cases had seen a major dip in between. However, most people chose not to adhere to Covid-19 guidelines, which has forced the district administration to take strict action against violators,” he said.
Mali added that the Kalyana-Karnataka district was witnessing a rise in demand for beds at government facilities more in the last few days. “Apart from dedicated Covid-19 beds readied at Gulbarga Institute of Medical Sciences (GIMS) and the ESIC Hospital, around 10 other private counterparts have also been roped in to manage a possible higher demand in the coming days,” he added.
He added that contact tracing and testing have also been intensified, based on instructions provided by the state government.
Meanwhile, Bidar, which shares borders with Maharashtra and Telangana, has reported 1,623 new cases and five fatalities in the last nine days.
Dr V G Reddy, District Health Officer of Bidar said designated Covid-19 beds were getting filled sooner than usual in the last fortnight. “As many as 175 beds have patients in BRIMS (Bidar Institute of Medical Sciences) now. Almost half of the designated beds in six private hospitals (with 20 to 30 beds each) have also been filled,” he said.
Further, the district administration has converted four taluk hospitals to Dedicated Covid Health Centre (DCHCs) with 50 beds each earmarked for patients testing positive. 120 beds across 15 community health centres are also ready to admit patients if the surge continues.
Dr Reddy highlighted that the district administration has intensified screening at state borders as a primary measure to keep the Covid-19 surge in check. “We are testing each passenger who is entering Karnataka from Maharashtra at seven checkposts in Bidar. Samples are sent to testing along with identity information that is collected which helps us identify clusters and to trace contacts easier,” he said.
He added that congregations of all kinds are being prevented. “We are limiting the number of people attending marriages and other functions as well,” he said.
However, health officials at Tumakuru cited its proximity to Bengaluru as the major reason behind the recent surge in the number of Covid-19 cases. The district has noted 1,346 cases and six deaths from the beginning of this month alone.
“Around 50,000 to 60,000 people travel for work-related purposes and others between Bengaluru and Tumakuru on a daily basis. This can be the major reason behind the surge this time,” Dr Mohandas R V, District Surveillance Officer (DSO) at Tumakuru said. He added that the number of admissions at Covid-19 designated hospitals had gone up in the recent days as private hospitals have also been roped in for surveillance as well as treatment purposes.
“We also collect information of all Influenza-like Illness (ILI) or Severe Acute Respiratory Illness (SARI) patients seeking treatment at private hospitals across the district. In addition to this, pharmacies have been asked to note details of people buying medicines for Covid-related symptoms without prescription as well,” Dr Mohandas added.
Further, he explained that officials in Tumakuru have been directed to enhance contact tracing. “We are collecting details of at least 20 contacts per each person contracting the infection. The contacts are put on surveillance and are subjected to testing in a prompt manner,” the DSO highlighted.
Meanwhile, as many as 1,858 people contracted the infection in Mysuru since the beginning of this month, with the district recording over 200 cases for the last few days. At least 21 people have succumbed to Covid-19 in Mysuru during the same period.
Observing the current trend, health officials said that the demand for Covid-designated beds in the district would be “very high” within a week. “The situation here is not as tough as Bengaluru but the way in which cases are increasing here indicates that some might face a shortage of beds in hospitals within a week,” Dr Rajesh Kumar from government-run Mysore Medical College and Research Institute said.
At the same time, another health official added that over 200 patients are at present pursuing treatment in government hospitals with more than 300 others admitted in private hospitals due to Covid-19. “In total, 3500 beds have been readied including those in private facilities across the district as our preparation for higher demand. This includes a 640-bedded Covid Care Centre in Mandakalli village near the airport,” the officer added. However, officials noted that more cases were concentrated in the city area alone and not in other taluks. “This has left most beds in taluk hospitals earmarked for Covid-19 to remain unoccupied as of now,” the official added.
Vaccination: Some run short of vaccine, others wait for beneficiaries
While vaccination is underway for everyone aged 45 and above, districts with high caseload other than Bengaluru are on different levels of achieving targets. While the situation is smooth in Kalaburagi, the district administrations of Mysuru and Bidar have met community leaders in a bid to promote vaccination among the masses.
For instance, Mysuru Deputy Commissioner Rohini Sindhuri recently met Muslim religious leaders in a bid to encourage vaccination among everyone aged 45 and above before the beginning of Ramzan fasting. “People should not be concerned unnecessarily about any side-effects caused by vaccination. Vaccines are safe and nearly 10 crore people have taken vaccines across the country so far,” she noted.
In Bidar, over 35 per cent of the total population aged over 45 have been inoculated so far. “While many are still reluctant to come forward to take vaccines, special mobilising and awareness activities are on from all possible points identified by the district administration,” an official in charge of overseeing the vaccination process in the district said. The official added that people have admitted to getting some messages on social media that spread various rumours on the inoculation process. “It is high time we all realise vaccines would keep give us a protective shield and can help in avoiding severe cases and deaths to a great extent.”
Meanwhile, Kalaburagi has seen active public participation in the vaccination drive so far. While over a lakh beneficiaries aged above 45 have already taken the first jab, over 55,000 senior citizens have been inoculated across the district so far. When asked if the district faced any vaccine shortage, an official said, “Some centres had faced so during a couple of days last week but things have been sorted now. Vaccination is up and running as planned here.”
At the same time, Bengaluru Urban continued to be the top contributor to the state’s Covid tally and the death toll in April 2021 as well. While 35,187 people have contracted Covid-19 since April 1, 150 people succumbed to the infection during the same time
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