Bengaluru Buzz: Bed scam ‘communalised’ | Medical students to COVID frontline | SC upholds State’s Oxygen requirement… and more

Weekly news roundup from Bengaluru

BJP leaders target Muslims in COVID war room

Police searched eight zonal COVID war rooms following allegations of a scam in the allotment of hospital beds for COVID-19 patients. Bengaluru South member of Parliament, Tejasvi Surya of the BJP, alleged that hospitals blocked beds in fake names to make money. He said that officials of the BBMP (Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike) ‘colluded’ with private nursing homes and hospitals. The police are also investigating the hospitals that have been charged. However, emergency response in Bengaluru was hit following this.

On Wednesday, a “raid” had been conducted by Surya and three MLAs at the South Zone’s COVID war room. A video shows four BJP leaders, including Surya, reading out names of 17 Muslims out of 205 workers. The 17 Muslim members were called “terrorists”, then suspended, subjected to harassment and forced to spend two days in a police station. It is learnt that only one of the 17 members had worked on the bed-blocking facility six days before the ‘raid’. The other 16 only answered helplines and uploaded patient data at the facility. They had no access to the bed-blocking system and they all worked in different shifts.

Activists, including author and historian Ramachandra Guha demanded action against “petty politicking and communalising the bed allotment system”. Dr Sylvia Karpagam, a public health practitioner and researcher said that be it for oxygen, medicines, food, or any other essential item, it is volunteers, especially from the Muslim community, who have been helpful and not the government.

Source: Deccan Herald, The Hindu, Indian Express

Read More: Do Bengaluru’s COVID helplines help?

Students to rescue; Govt fixes pvt hospital rates

Wednesday saw the single largest day spike in both COVID cases and fatalities. Bengaluru Urban alone accounted for 23,106 infections and 161 fatalities. To address the shortage of medical professionals, the Karnataka government has decided to rope in nearly one lakh students pursuing medical, paramedical, and nursing courses for COVID duties. They would be considered corona warriors and accorded priority in vaccinations. The government promised to provide risk allowance to all those involved in COVID-related work.

On Thursday, the government approved revised package rates in private hospitals admitting patients based on referrals by public health authorities. An order issued by Chief Secretary P Ravi Kumar specified that a patient in a general ward can be charged Rs 5,200 per day, while the same for a bed with HDU (high-dependency unit) would be Rs 8,000 per day. The charges for an isolation ICU is fixed at Rs 9,750 per day without ventilator and Rs 11,500 with ventilator. 

As there are many deaths (largely due to lung failure) despite RT-PCR and rapid antigen tests showing negative results for COVID-19, doctors suspect that these cases could be linked to new variants of the virus. Scientists, however, reject the theory.

Meanwhile, the genome sequencing of the virus in circulation in the second wave (since March) has revealed that the double mutant Maharashtra strain (B.1.617) and UK variant (B.1.1.7) have virtually obliterated the previous strain (B.1.36.29).

Source: Indian Express, Deccan Herald

SC upholds State’s demand for 1200 MT Oxygen

The Supreme Court on Friday said the Karnataka High Court order to the Centre for the supply of 1,200 MT oxygen to the state is reasonable. On Thursday, the Centre had approached the Supreme Court seeking a stay on the Karnataka High Court’s order.

Due to the scarcity of beds, the family of some patients sat on a dharna outside Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa’s residence and at the Vidhana Soudha until they got a bed. Meanwhiule, Bengaluru will get an additional 1,135 beds from private medical colleges for COVID-19 treatment. This will include 342 general beds, 55 HDU beds, 103 ICU beds and 38 ICU ventilators

Hospital beds

Except for some corporate hospitals, which have managed to procure some stocks individually through vendors, most other private vaccination centres do not have vaccine stocks as supplies from the State stopped from May 1. The PHANA (Private Hospitals and Nursing Homes Association) has written to the Chief Secretary seeking help to procure vaccines. The association also urged the government to temporarily stop inoculating people in the 18-44 age group so that they could concentrate on those who are due for their second dose of the vaccine.

Source: Indian Express, Bangalore Mirror, Deccan Herald, The New Indian Express

Read More: Where do Bengaluru hospitals get their oxygen supply from?

Pourakarmikas protest govt inaction

Protests broke out on Thursday over the BBMP’s failure to provide civic workers with safety gear, after Susheelamma, a 52-year-old civic worker, succumbed to Covid-19 on Wednesday night. Pourakarmikas have been demanding they be provided with masks, face shields, gloves and sanitisers. The BBMP had promised to provide personal protective equipment, but it has not reached the workers in many wards. Anguished by the death of their colleague, pourakarmikas held a protest at Banaswadi Main Road. They demanded that the government deposit Rs 10,000 into their accounts.

Source: Deccan Herald, The Hindu

Read More: “Pourakarmikas are our defence against corona; here’s how to keep them (ergo all of us) safe”

Two legendary book-sellers pass away

T S Shanbhag, owner of the famed Premier Book Shop, died on May 4. The 84-year-old was suffering from an infection and then tested positive for COVID-19. On April 19, book lovers heard about the passing of U S Srinivasan, better known as PuVyaSri, short for Pustaka Vyapari Srinivasan, or ‘bookseller Srinivasan’. The 88-year-old passed away in his sleep, said a representative of the All India Trade Union Congress, of which he was a member.

Source: Deccan Herald

[Compiled by Revathi Siva Kumar]

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The News Desk at Citizen Matters puts out Press Releases, notifications and curated information useful to the urban reader.