COVID-19 spot tests in Bengaluru compulsory, Karnataka Health Minister confirms

Minister Sudhakar added that a task force will be set up at every booth in the city to go door-to-door and survey people for COVID-19 symptoms and vaccination.
Karnataka Health Minister Dr K Sudhakar
Karnataka Health Minister Dr K Sudhakar
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Don’t fight BBMP personnel who approach you for conducting COVID-19 tests, Karnataka Health Minister Dr K Sudhakar said on Thursday. In a press conference, the Health Minister confirmed for the first time that the government has made spot tests for COVID-19 compulsory in Bengaluru. "I request the residents of Bengaluru to kindly cooperate when BBMP personnel who approach people saying that they need to compulsorily get tested. I say this because I have received reports of people fighting with the personnel saying they won’t get tested," minister Sudhakar said, adding that tests will be conducted in places where there is a crowd such as pubs, restaurants, markets, railway stations and bus stations.

The confirmation comes weeks after such spot tests started in Bengaluru, and several people reported being forced to undergo tests. The compulsory spot tests are being done to increase the number of samples collected in Bengaluru to 1 lakh per day — an announcement that was made by Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa last month. This comes even as epidemiologists and public health experts warn that such coerced random testing has ethical and legal ramifications, and may further not result in reaching the intended public health goals. 

The Health Minister’s announcement came as part of several announcements to ramp up measures against COVID-19 in Bengaluru, as the number of cases surges in the city. The city will soon see a task force at every booth level, which will conduct door-to-door surveys of people who are eligible for vaccines, and those who are coronavirus positive. The taskforce will consist of Karnataka Health Department and Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) officers, volunteers from various NGOs, and residents. In total Bengaluru will have 8,500 booths and a task force team per booth.

The teams will go door-to-door to conduct surveys on how many people above the age of 45 years have and have not been vaccinated; get people who have COVID-19 symptoms tested; keep a watch on those who tested positive and are in home isolation, and ensure that they don’t move around; and check vital parameters such as blood pressure and oxygen saturation of those who test positive for the novel coronavirus. 

Dr Sudhakar further said that the government is looking to trace 20 primary and secondary contacts COVID-19 patients.

Sudhakar announced that after the Union government approval, special vaccination teams have been set up to inoculate people in their workplaces and apartments to increase the number vaccinations.

The minister also appealed to people to avoid gatherings for religious events, weddings and other places where crowds could form. He further said that personnel could take strict action and cancel licenses for businesses if they are found to be violating COVID-19 appropriate behavior which includes wearing masks, maintaining physical distance and using sanitisers.

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