In an online meeting with apartment RWA representatives on August 14, BBMP Commissioner N Manjunath Prasad clarified doubts on COVID management. The meeting covered the current rules on containment zones, festival permissions, waste management, quarantine and isolation guidelines, etc. BBMP Special Commissioner (Finance & IT) Rajendra Cholan, and Special Commissioner (Solid Waste Management & Animal Husbandry) Randeep D also attended the session.
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Following are some key questions answered at the meeting.
Q: Will houses with COVID patients continue to be barricaded?
Having received multiple complaints from citizens on inhuman barricading of COVID-positive houses, Manjunath clarified this practice would no longer be allowed. “We have written to the government for a more humane approach and we have also instructed all BBMP employees to not engage in this inhuman practice [barricading],” he said.
Q: Can gym and sports facilities be opened now?
Responding to questions about the opening of gyms, clubs, and sports facilities, as well as about festivities, the officials said that public gatherings are still discouraged. Randeep said that gyms and sports facilities can be opened after following the SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures) and proper sanitisation. He clarified that only non-contact sports facilities are allowed, and that swimming pools can’t be open.
Q. What about celebration of festivals like Ganeshotsav?
Manjunath said, “The Government of India says no religious gatherings/festivals, and we will follow the same. We will not allow any large public gathering or any Ganesha immersion in public.”
Q. How should residents manage COVID waste?
Randeep clarified that in houses where someone is under home quarantine, the waste is to be segregated into three streams as usual – wet, dry and sanitary.
But if a person is in home isolation (that is, if the person has tested COVID-positive), all waste (except wet waste) from the house is to be considered as COVID biomedical waste and put in yellow waste bags, as per guidelines. This waste is to be handed over to waste collectors, who will then spray it with a Sodium Hypochlorite solution and incinerate it. Both dry and sanitary waste (including gloves, masks, etc) need to go in the yellow bag, so that waste collectors are protected. Wet waste can processed through the usual channels, preferably in-house composting.
Randeep said that workers need to collect waste from affected houses regularly. “Letting that waste lie around in the building actually makes the situation worse,” he said.
Q. Do interstate travellers have to go through institutional quarantine? What about business travellers?
All interstate travellers will undergo 14 days of home quarantine, regardless of where they come from. Business travellers with a return ticket and a COVID-negative test report are exempted from this rule.
Officials said the data of all travellers is captured at the airport and the city’s borders, and that they maintain the database in an app. Manjunath said that instructions had been given to officials at the borders to implement home quarantine rather than institutional quarantine for travellers. The family members of persons in home quarantine are not considered primary contacts.
Q. When is a home isolation patient considered discharged?
Officials clarified that the mandatory home isolation period is 17 days after the onset of symptoms (or date of sampling, for asymptomatic cases). Those under home isolation can end it after these 17 days, provided there are no symptoms in the last three days.
Testing central to BBMP’s COVID strategy, says Commissioner
Manjunath informed participants that BBMP’s COVID strategy is centered around two major efforts:
- Ramping up testing
- COVID management at the booth level
He said that the strategy of testing as many people as possible had been yielding results, and that the plan was to ramp this up. He said, “We are conducting 20,000 tests per day now. However we are taking a targeted approach, prioritising patients with ILI/SARI symptoms and those who are primary contacts of positive patients.”
Once a test result comes through, it gets uploaded into the ICMR portal. According to Manjunath Prasad, BBMP downloads data from the portal every hour, segregates the results zone-wise, and then BBMP’s triage team reaches out to those who tested positive. He said that roughly half the COVID patients in Bengaluru have opted for home isolation.
In cases where home isolation is not possible, patients are taken to government-run COVID Care Centres (CCCs). Manjunath clarified that free food, care and accommodation are provided at these CCCs. He also said that around 50 apartments have built their own CCCs since permission to do so was given on July 10.
The Commissioner stressed the importance of booth-level surveillance in COVID management, “Booth-level officers survey the neighbourhood to identify vulnerable persons, and get them tested and isolated if need be. Volunteers themselves can do this in their neighbourhood, and BBMP will facilitate”. He urged RWA members to become volunteers. The process of recruiting volunteers had officially begun on August 14 with the launch of the BLCARES.in platform.
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