The Special Commissioner in BBMP in charge of COVID-19 surveillance spoke to TNM about the city’s proactive response.

BBMP Commissioner visits COVID-19 affected placesTwitter / @BBMPCOMM
Coronavirus coronavirus Tuesday, May 26, 2020 - 17:46

Bengaluru has earned praise for its comparatively low number of the number of COVID-19 cases and casualties, which the city administration says can be attributed to proactive measures taken by city officials and the Health Department.

Among 198 wards in the city so far, only 61 wards have reported COVID-19 positive cases since March 8, when the first case of infection was reported. At 280, Bengaluru has also reported the lowest number of cases among some major Indian cities. Chennai has recorded more than 11,000 cases, New Delhi has over 13,000 cases and Mumbai has seen upwards of 30,000 cases.

Bengaluru was recognised by the Union government, alongside Jaipur, Indore and Chennai for being role models in pandemic management, from creating containment zones to contact tracing and other containment measures.

Speaking to Dr Lokesh, Special Commissioner in BBMP (Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike) in charge of COVID-19 surveillance, he said, “ "From Day 1, we were proactive in our surveillance work. The health officers, ANMs (Auxiliary Nurse Midwife) and ASHAs (Accredited Social Health Activists) were clear on their roles. We started tracking international passengers from when they landed, and were among the first to start the stamping of hands at the airport itself to make sure they complied with quarantine orders. We also started this unique initiative of institutional quarantine in hotels of those passengers who came in."

He added, “We also had good leadership. The BBMP Commissioner (Anil Kumar) was on the ground when it came to tracking the cases. For example in Nagawara in a slum, there was a case. He came with me (surveillance officer) to cordon off the slum and make sure tracing was done effectively. So we treated everyone equally. We didn't even spare a Union minister and traced everyone, and pasted a notice on the wall outside his house as well. Surveillance and tracing was the most important, so that the cases remained between contacts and did not spread to the community level. So that's what contributed to keeping the cases low in the city."

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He also said that 67% of all of Bengaluru’s households have been surveyed to check for vulnerable populations. This survey exercise began in last week of April by the state Health Department, as it had in many places across the country through teachers, healthcare workers and block level officers, to identify populations who may be vulnerable to coronavirus infections.

The survey divides vulnerable populations into senior citizens, comorbid conditions (diabetes, cardiac ailments), symptomatic patients and pregnant/lactating women. Once identified, this population is given special attention by the Health Department in follow-up rounds, a senior IAS (Indian Administrative Service) officer said.

(Inputs from Alithea Stephanie Mounika)