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B’luru braces for possible surge as experts warn about COVID-19 cases

With the upsurge of COVID-19 cases over the past few days across Karnataka, especially in Bengaluru, and with experts warning of a steep spike in cases by July-August, the Bruhat Bengaluru MahanagaraPalike (BBMP) has ramped up surveillance and readied a contingency plan to face what could be its worst outbreak. On Friday too, Bengaluru witnessed 36 new cases, taking the city’s tally to 290.

Taking a cue from New Delhi, Maharashtra and Kerala, the civic body is on the lookout for open spaces to set up ‘field hospitals’ or temporary medical facilities to tackle a possible outbreak. BBMP commissioner B H Anil Kumar said, “As part of the contingency plans, we are counting on four places — Kanteerava Indoor Stadium, Bangalore International Exhibition Centre (BIEC) on Tumakuru Road, Tripuravasini in Palace Grounds and Karnataka Trade Promotion Organisation (KTPO) exhibition hall in Whitefield to set up field hospitals.”

Anil Kumar said these field hospitals are in addition to the existing dedicated COVID-19 hospitals. “Victoria Hospital is a 1,000-bed facility, which is yet to reach its capacity. A day ago, we even converted Bowring Hospital as a designated COVID facility and two floors will be used only for COVID-19 cases. In case of a big outbreak, the new facilities will be set up,” Anil Kumar said.

The BBMP will also consider allowing treatment of asymptomatic COVID-19 patients at home under strict surveillance and nutrition management by an expert panel of doctors. “In some countries with a surge in cases, this has been effectively put to use. If you have a well ventilated and dedicated space and supply of nutritious food, cases can be treated at home,” he pointed.

However, the commissioner clarified that the rise in containment zones in the city had nothing to do with the experts’ warning. Containment zones, which numbered around 30 in the city a few weeks ago, have shot up to 116. “This does not indicate new clusters. It is only because we have changed the definition of containment zones that there has been a gradual increase. From declaring an area of one km radius to an entire street as a containment zone initially, now we only consider the house of the infected person as the containment area. This has added to the list,” Anil Kumar explained.

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