Bengaluru stops random testing, to focus on returnees from outside state

BBMP officials had started random testing in two containment zones of Hogasandra and Padarayanapura, which was later spread across the city.

In a positive development, Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BMMP) officials on Thursday said that they have stopped random testing in the city to check for community spread of the novel coronavirus disease. BBMP officials say they have managed to contain the spread in the areas where there was an outbreak.

The focus for the city administration has now shifted to the people who are entering Bengaluru from outside Karnataka. Data provided by the BBMP COVID-19 War Room incidentally states that 45-plus% of all active cases in the city are among returning travellers.

“We have stopped random testing across Bengaluru including in containment zones. As of now, we expect that we have contained the infection in all places and our primary concern is now on inter-state and international travellers especially those coming from Maharashtra,” BBMP Special Commissioner Dr Lokesh M in-charge of COVID-19 surveillance told TNM.

“Even the DJ Halli area which had seen a recent spurt of cases is also not a matter of worry as we believe we have contained the infection by isolating the contacts. Only 19-20 persons out of the 100-odd of the primary contacts we had put in quarantine tested positive,” he explained further that so far random testing in multiple areas have come across as negative, which is an encouraging sign.

It may be recalled that BBMP officials had started random testing in two containment zones of Hogasandra and Padarayanapura in the last week of April. Later, when multiple random test samples had come back positive, health officials had said that they would carry out mass testing in the Padarayanapura ward in mid-May.

Bengaluru Urban, till Thursday evening, has a total of 428 COVID-19 cases, out of which 151 persons are still getting treated, while 263 persons have recovered. 13 persons have succumbed to the disease and their comorbidities. With a total of 39,581 tests done, the city has a positivity rate of 1%. And a total of 1334 persons (primary and secondary contacts) are still under quarantine.

Among these 417 cases, 71 are those who have been put in institutional quarantine due to their travel histories. Among these 71 patients, 65 are still active cases, making 45% of all active cases in Bengaluru those who recently travelled to Karnataka from other states or other countries.

Health officials say regular containment zone management will continue as usual in 40 containment zones spread across the city.

Dr Lokesh further said that out-of-state returnees are being screened by the state health department and are undergoing pool testing and institutional quarantine as per symptoms.

“Protocol related to this is the prerogative of the state health department and here we (BBMP or Bengaluru Urban district administration) have little decision to make,” he said.

He added, “All the people who are put in quarantine are mostly tested either individually or through pooled tests, and in some way, one person is missed or someone comes in our fever clinics, that is the only matter of concern for now.”

Similarly, Dr Prakash, District Health Officer, Bengaluru Urban, also said, “Most cases in the recent days are coming among interstate travellers from Maharashtra and Delhi, so we cannot say that the relaxations of the lockdown are responsible for the rise in cases. Otherwise, the contacts who are turning up positive are already in quarantine, so there is no chance of disease. So people with travel history is the main issue.”

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