TNM held an exclusive interview with BBMP Commissioner Gaurav Gupta, in which he explained how Bengaluru is handling the COVID-19 situation.

BBMP Commissioner Gaurav Gupta
Coronavirus COVID-19 Sunday, May 02, 2021 - 10:41

Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike Commissioner Gaurav Gupta on May 1 said that no private hospital can deny admission to patients even if the RT-PCR test result is yet to return or has returned negative. This was among other important points he made in an exclusive interview with TNM on Saturday, May 1. 

1. RT-PCR negative certificate 

A BU (Bengaluru Urban) number is given to identify if a person has tested positive for the coronavirus or not, but hospitals have been given clear instructions that they need not turn away a patient who does not have a BU number. This number is only for people who require government assistance and beds in private hospitals. Even if a patient does not have the number, they can get a rapid antigen test, based on which a BU number can be generated.

In some cases, though people exhibit symptoms of COVID-19, they get a negative RT-PCR test report and so find it difficult to get a hospital bed. In such cases, the Karnataka government has issued an order that even if the RT-PCR test is negative and the BU number cannot be generated, patients can be admitted through the CT scan etc, and the directions for that have been issued. In the existing system, the BU number is not required but it is desirable.

2. Cases are much higher in second wave

The number of COVID-19 cases this time are four times higher than in the first wave. “If we have 20,000 cases a day, 10% of them may require a hospital bed - this will be around 2000 cases,” BBMP Commissioner Gaurav Gupta explained to TNM. He further said that for the 2,000 cases, around 1,000 beds will be provided by the private sector. A dashboard reflecting the availability of beds in private hospitals is expected to be launched on Monday, May 3.  

3. 1912 helplines increased to 500 lines.

The Commissioner said that the BBMP has increased the lines on the 1912 helpline to 500, from 30 and 60 earlier. The wait time is expected to be around 2 minutes or so. The official who handles the 1912 helpline will connect callers to the zonal centres, which also have their own helplines.

4. Calling 1912 is enough

The 1912 helpline will connect you to the most relevant office. If none of the zonal offices, 104 or 108 are able to help, 1912 has a mini war room of its own with doctors working round the clock, who are triaging. They also connect to Suvarna Arogya Suraksha Trust (SAST) if the patient has any issue with the hospital with regards to payment or admission. 

The 108 helpline deals with emergency cases that require immediate attention. This is not for COVID-19 positive cases, but for SARI cases with COVID-19 symptoms.

5. 90% of cases do not require hospitalisation

“What we are seeing is that 90% of the cases do not require hospitalisation. We need to prioritise home isolation and hospitalise in case it is critical,” the Commissioner told TNM.

6. A portal for bed availability status in private hospitals

“At the state level, we are allocating 800 beds everyday but certain cases have come up which have gone beyond critical care and such people run around and these are the ones we see in the hospital. We are not able to take care of them because they have come at the last moment. Private hospitals should have a common booking portal for a private quota bed,” he said.  

7. PHANA portal for private hospitals

On Saturday, Private Hospitals and Nursing Homes Association (PHANA) confirmed to TNM that it has finalised a portal through which patients can check the bed status in private institutions. It is expected to go live on Monday.

8. Oxygen supply to hospitals

“Karnataka is one of the leading states producing oxygen. The problem is not with supply but with storage in hospitals. A fraction (5%) of the total oxygen production is used for medical purposes and in cases of medical emergencies like this, the requirement increases. But the issue is most hospitals do not have storage space for the 10 times oxygen requirement,” the Commissioner said.  

9. Availability of oxygen

“We have decentralised oxygen concentrators and we are importing oxygen concentrators. These machines can suffice for 3-5 patients and most of our COVID Care Centres will have oxygen concentrators for people in need,” Gaurav Gupta told TNM. He added that 10 of the 23 maternity homes under BBMP are now converted into transit oxygen centres, where people can receive oxygen. From here, and they can be shifted to hospitals or sent home, depending on their condition. 

10. Vaccination for the 18-45 age group

Lately, there were dwindling supplies of the vaccine. The state has reached out to vaccine manufacturers directly to replenish the supplies. This is a regime change as private hospitals are also directly contacting the supplier from now. It has led to a little bit of a hiccup but I am sure it will be sorted out. The Chief Minister (BS Yediyurappa) inaugurated the vaccination drive for the 18-45 age group at Bowring Hospital. Unless we have substantial supplies, it will require scaling up and it is affected right now by insufficient supply. 

Earlier, Karnataka Health Minister K Sudhakar has said that the vaccination drive for the 18-45 age group will not begin from May 1 in Karnataka and he has also asked citizens to wait for intimation from the government.

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