'Local transmission of Covid-19 cases in Bengaluru'

'Local transmission of Covid-19 cases in Bengaluru'

Representative image.

Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa was treated to a dose of reality during a closed-door meeting on June 26, during which advisors and experts informed him that the Covid-19 pandemic was far from beaten.

The meeting took place just a day before the state’s Covid tally skyrocketed into the 900-number range and to two days of quadruple-digit figures thereafter.

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According to minutes of the meeting, a copy of which is with DH, the chief minister was told that “local transmission” of the disease is happening, that thousands of beds would be required in the next two months to contain the outbreak and the lack of a “monitoring system of oxygen level in patients” had “resulted in a sudden increase of deaths.” 

Among the advisors at the meeting were Chief Secretary T M Vijay Bhaskar, Dr C N Manjunath, Dr Devi Prasad Shetty of Narayana Health (NH) Group, additional chief secretary to the chief minister P Ravikumar and two senior members of the Covid expert committee, Dr M K Sudarshan and Dr Giridhar Babu.

Dr Babu’s comments, which are recorded first, cautioned the chief minister that local transmission was happening in the city, but which was amenable to containment. Speaking to DH, he clarified his comments: “Local transmission is a distinct classification in the GOI guidelines. It does not equate community transmission. However, the Government of India (GoI) guidelines don’t specify community transmission.”

This is corroborated by the GOI document, which cites five possible scenarios: travel-related cases reported in India, local transmission of Covid-19, large outbreaks amenable to containment, widespread community transmission of Covid-19, and India becoming endemic for Covid-19.

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However, the document which bills itself as an “Updated Containment Plan for Large Outbreaks, Novel Coronavirus Disease 2019” makes no suggestions of any kind for “community transmission of Covid-19” or “India becoming endemic” for the disease.

The chief minister was also told that 5,000 private and 5,000 government beds would be required in the next two months to contain the outbreak.

Meantime, Dr Devi Shetty warned that the country and Karnataka may have a large number of Covid-19 cases and may see multiple peaks in the coming year. He called on the state to cut down the mortality rate, instead of focusing on positive patients.

Sealing city off proposed

Another expert, Dr. C N Manjunath, expressed concern that private hospitals were not actively coming forward to handle the Covid situation. He also suggested a five-day working week for government offices and controlling inter-state, inter-district travel.

“I suggested that we stop all entry and exit of vehicles into the city because a lot of people travel into the city for work, and they are helping to spread the disease,” Dr. Manjunath told DH, adding that he did not know if the government would act on his recommendation.