The city of Bengaluru for its population of over 1.2 crores has only reported 385 positive cases of COVID-19 as of June 1 whereas its counterpart metro cities Chennai and Mumbai have had 15,770 and 40,887 cases respectively.
Out of the 385 infections, 237 people have recovered successfully leaving the city with only 136 active cases. The secret to its fight, according to the experts, is tracing, tracking, testing, and treating. Although these were followed in other cities too, the implementation was the difference.
The Trust on Experts
Dr. Giridhar Babu, a part of ICMR’s research task force on Epidemiology and also a part of Karnataka’s state’s Technical advisory committee, said that the government allowed the experts to make decisions instead of the bureaucracy. Independence was given to the technical committee without any political interference. He said,
“In Karnataka, the driving force (against COVID) was the health department. We never had an instance where they turned down our suggestions. Even if an idea was counter-intuitive, after deliberations, they implemented it. The trust placed in the experts was astonishing.”
The Contact Tracing
Bengaluru reported its first case of COVID-19 on the 8th of March. The health department along with the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike traced down 2,666 people who had come in contact with the patient and isolated them. In some cases, the contact tracing went as back as one month.
Apart from contact tracing, the right people were tested. People having Influenza and Severe acute Respiratory illness were tested. The Medical shops were directed to take the details of those who buy medicines for this specific illness.
The Use of Technology
In earlier cases, in order to trace the contacts who were in other districts, the officials had to send a report to the district collector who would then track the contact with his staff. This was consuming time. In order to reduce the time, the state launched an application where the contact details of the patient are fed to the app and since it is in the cloud, the officials will use this information to track people.
The Containment Zones
The BBMP takes pride in being the first to introduce the concept of sealing of an area as a containment zone. The Padarayanapura ward that reported multiple cases was identified as a high-risk area and was sealed off completely. The decision proved to be a good one as over 23 percent of all the cases in the city were from the Padarayanapura ward.
The road forward
The state has already announced a set of relaxations starting from the first of June. Dr, Babu believes that relaxation was inevitable and says that strong surveillance is the only way forward. He provided a three-step strategy to keep the cases as low as possible in the city.
- Expanding the symptoms beyond sore throat, cough, and fever as more asymptomatic cases are being reported. Inclusion of loss of smell and taste, weakness, muscle pain to be included.
- Preventing cluster formation as nearly 80 percent of cases come from 20 percent of people in clusters.
- Identification of super spreaders and isolating them will play a key role.
Source: The Quint