B’luru to conduct 1-lakh tests daily to check Covid spread

Amid surging Covid cases, 1-lakh tests would be conducted daily in this tech city from Friday to check the virus spread, said Karnataka Health Minister K. Sudhakar on Thursday.

“As the epicentre of the pandemic, Bengaluru accounts for about 60 per cent of the Covid cases in the southern state. The city civic body has been directed to conduct 1 lakh tests across Bengaluru per day and identify at least 20 primary and secondary contact for each case to reduce the caseload,” Sudhakar told reporters here.

According to the state health bulletin, out of 1,08,757 tests conducted during the day across the state, 8,779 were through rapid antigen detection and 99,978 through RT-PCR method.

“Since January 1, 81,27,534 tests were conducted across the state. From March to December 2020, 1,41,96,065 people were tested. Cumulatively 2,23,23,599 tests were held since mid-March 2020 when the pandemic broke in the state,” said the bulletin.

Of the 6,570 new cases registered across the state on Thursday, 4,422 were from Bengaluru, taking the city’s Covid-19 tally to 4,64,438, including 38,946 active cases.

Urging citizens to cooperate with healthcare warriors when they visit them for testing, Sudhakar said the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) officials would conduct door-to-door survey to identify positive cases to contain the virus spread in the city.

“The survey will be conducted in view of the surging cases in the city. A team will be formed in each of the 8,500 booths across the city for the survey. The mandate is to test, spread awareness on isolation guidelines, help the infected with treatment and stamping,” said Sudhakar.

Ensuring oxygen for infected patients, the minister said one ambulance would be stationed in every ward of the 198 civic wards across the city, as the BBMP has 250 ambulances to rush Covid patients to hospitals in the city.

“All private hospitals across the city have been directed to reserve 50 per cent of their beds for Covid patients. Guidelines will be issued for referring patients from state-run hospitals to private hospitals for admission and treatment,” said Sudhakar, a medical doctor by profession.

The state home department has been directed to provide 2,000 home guards to enforce Covid appropriate behaviour across the city and fine violators.

“Wearing a face mask, maintaining physical distance and sanitising hands are mandatory for every citizen to check the virus spread,” asserted the minister.

Though 1,000 beds are available in city hospitals for treating Covid patients, Sudhakar said an additional 4,000 beds would be arranged to admit more if cases rise in the coming days due to the second wave of the pandemic.

“Information on availability of beds in government and private hospitals across the city will be on the BBMP health web portal to ensure transparency in allotting them to Covid patients,” added Sudhakar.