Cases surge; Govt imposes restrictions
Over 470 children below 10 have been infected with COVID-19, since the beginning of this month. A total of 244 boys and 228 girls have been infected from March 1 to 26. The cases among children were limited to eight to nine daily during the early days of this month but they steadily rose to 46 on March 26. The cases are different from the trends seen last year, as the state reported most new cases among people aged 40 or less.
Contrary to the advice from the Technical Advisory Committee, the government ruled out a lockdown in Bengaluru. It however notified restrictions including 50% occupancy in cinema halls, pubs, hotels, only seating capacity in public transport, closure of gyms, swimming pools and all gatherings until April 20.
Dasarahalli and Yelahanka zones have emerged as the focal point of the second Covid surge with the highest number of clusters, despite registering modest figures last year. Yelahanka Zone has officially revealed 16 clusters, while Dasarahalli Zone has registered 11 clusters, accounting for 71 infected cases. There are a total of 31 containment zones out of which a majority are educational institutions or hostels along with apartment complexes. Within the containment zones, only essential activities will be allowed.
The BBMP has clarified that negative RT-PCR test reports are not mandatory for anyone coming from outside the State from Thursday. However, the State government guidelines making negative RT-PCR test reports mandatory for passengers from Maharashtra, Kerala, Punjab and Chandigarh travelling to the State remain applicable.
Source: The Hindu, Indian Express, Deccan Herald, Bangalore Mirror
BBMP gets new Commissioner
The Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike got its third Commissioner in a year as the State government replaced N Manjunath Prasad with its Administrator, Gaurav Gupta.
Gupta becomes the first chief commissioner as stipulated under the BBMP Act, 2020, which came into force in January 2021. He was appointed BBMP’s administrator when the government superseded the civic body in September last year. Rakesh Singh, Additional Chief Secretary, Urban Development Department, is the new administrator in the absence of an elected council. Fresh elections were put on hold as the government is restructuring the wards as per the new law.
The state government in accordance with the BBMP Act, 2020, issued a notification on Wednesday appointing zonal commissioners for eight zones and upgrading the post of BBMP Commissioner to Chief Commissioner, BBMP, with effect from April 1. The BBMP Act, 2020 provides for empowered zonal committees for decentralisation of the administration.
Source: The Hindu, Deccan Herald
Taxi fare hiked by 90%
On Thursday, the transport department notified new fares for app-based taxi services. The hike, with immediate effect, will make taxi rides costlier by about 90%. While retaining the classification of cabs under four categories, based on the price of the car, a base fare has been fixed for each category for the first 4 kms. A minimum and maximum fare bandwidth has been given for every subsequent km. The new fares apply to BBMP limits as well as areas within a 25 km from the borders of BBMP limits.
Cab drivers went on a strike following the death of their colleague on Tuesday night. Pratap, who drove a Karnataka State Tourism Development Corporation cab at the airport, set himself ablaze outside the Kempegowda International Airport. The protestors demanded a level playing field between conventional and aggregator taxis. Drivers accused taxi aggregators of keeping fares low to attract customers, which affected other taxi operators. As drivers of Ola, Uber, KSDTC and other airport taxi services stayed off the road, air passengers had to rely on BMTC buses and private transport.
Source: The New Indian Express, Deccan Herald, The Hindu
Over 15,000 with no comorbidities vaccinated
The opening up of vaccination for those aged 45 and above without comorbidities on Thursday went off well despite minor glitches with the Co-Win portal. Private and government hospitals across the city reported little or no hiccups with the Co-Win portal, as in the previous phases of the vaccination drive. Medical staffers said an increasing number of people were opting for Covaxin. BBMP said that 15,986 people without comorbidities had been vaccinated within its jurisdiction on Thursday. There were no daily targets, but vaccinators had been instructed to get through the 1.66-crore target population within a month.
About 25 lakh individuals in the city are eligible for vaccination in this phase. As 535 institutions have been registered as vaccination centres, about 85,000 can be inoculated every day. However, the city has vaccinated only a maximum of 35,000 odd individuals on a single day till date. Anyone above 45 years, who wants to get vaccinated, should register on Co-WIN portal https://selfregistration.cowin.gov.in/ or through Arogya Setu app to book their desired vaccination date. Also, walk-in registration will be available at all the centres.
Apart from the vaccination centres, the state is extending the drive by designating health and wellness centres (HWC) and sub-centres. Around 5,500 centres will carry out vaccination, including Public Health Centres, Urban Primary Health Centres, Community Health Centres, taluk hospitals, district hospitals, medical colleges and private hospitals. There was no shortage of vaccines, the BBMP has said. Some places witnessed more crowds and there were separate sites at each centre for administration of Covaxin and Covishield.
Due to resumption of non-COVID-19 services and most beds converting to non-COVID-19 ones in many government hospitals, patients, especially in the South and East zones, are finding it hard to find a bed in Bengaluru, which is seeing its highest surge. Government hospital admitted to running full. Victoria Hospital has 160 COVID-19 beds, all of which are occupied. The state’s Technical Advisory Committee recommended that the government restart the centralised e-distribution of hospital beds after incorporating private hospitals. Most smaller hospitals had completely converted into non-COVID-19 ones. BBMP requested private hospitals to earmark at least 10% of their beds for Covid-19 patients for the next seven days.
Source: The Hindu, The New Indian Express, Deccan Herald
Classes VI to IX suspended
The Karnataka government on Thursday announced suspension of regular classes for standards 6 to 9 in Bengaluru urban district, in view of the surge in COVID numbers. Regular classes for Class 10 students will continue. Directions on holding the exams for middle school will soon be taken.
Many private schools do not want to conduct offline examinations for students. Private school managements took the decision after consulting parents, who feel that it would not be safe.
Source: Deccan Herald, The Hindu
Highest March temperature in over four years
The city recorded the highest temperature in March in the last four years on Wednesday, with a maximum of 37.2 degree Celsius. India Meteorological Department officials said the previous high — the same temperature — was recorded was on March 26, 2017.
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Wednesday’s record was 0.1 degree Celsius less than the all-time record of 37.3 degree Celsius, recorded on March 29, 1996. The mean maximum for March in Bengaluru is 33.1 degree Celsius, while the mean minimum is 20 degree Celsius.
Source: The Hindu