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Bengaluru: Are BBMP’s Covid helplines working?

A Metrolife reality check finds some BBMP zonal lines unresponsive, and others slow to connect
Last Updated : 30 April 2021, 14:45 IST
Last Updated : 30 April 2021, 14:45 IST
Last Updated : 30 April 2021, 14:45 IST
Last Updated : 30 April 2021, 14:45 IST

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A reporter called BBMP’s Covid helplines over two days at different times, and found those dedicated to the east zone, Yelahanka totally unresponsive. The BBMP divides the city into seven zones.

It took 10 to 15 minutes to get through to helplines dedicated to the other zones. Here is what happened:

East Zone

(7411038024/9886496295)

On perennial hold

The call never goes through. A pre-recorded message says ‘Your call is important to us. Please hold on while we transfer your call to the next available agent.’ This reporter tried on two consecutive days and received the same response.

West Zone

(080-6824 8454)

Slow, but not dead

The call was answered after 10 minutes. The reporter said she was calling on behalf of a Covid-positive patient. The executive asked for a Bangalore Urban (BU) number, and promised a bed in a general ward. He said ICU beds and ventilators were all taken. “Call 108 for an ambulance if the patient needs oxygen,” he said.

South Zone

(84318 16718)

Gives SOS numbers

The reporter called as a patient and was directed to a hospital near Ashoka Pillar in Jayanagar. The executive gave out a doctor’s number for emergency tele-consultation and said general ward beds were available. “Dial 108 for ambulance and oxygen,” he said.

Dasarahalli Zone

(080-2959 0057)

‘You’ll get tabs’

When the reporter called saying she suspected she was Covid-positive, she was advised to get a test done at any lab nearby. “If positive, you will be given zinc and Vitamin C tablets, and someone from the BBMP will call you,” the executive said.

Mahadevapura

(080-2301 0101/2301 0102)

‘No ICU, oxygen’

When this reporter called as the caretaker of a Covid patient, she was told to monitor oxygen levels. “Take the patient to hospital only if necessary because there are no ICU beds or ventilators available. You can get a general ward bed in a government hospital,” he said.

Bommanahalli zone

(88846 66670)

Lead to oxygen supply

The reporter asked how to find a bed for a Covid-positive patient without a BU number. The executive said the patient would have to wait till the BU number was given to be allotted a bed in the general ward. “There are no ICU beds and we don’t have ventilators either. If the patient has difficulty breathing, I can give you the number of an oxygen supplier,” he said

RR Nagar Zone

(080-28601050)

Gives useful info

This reporter called as a Covid-19 positive patient with mild symptoms. The executive advised monitoring of temperature and oxygen levels, and self-isolation. He also gave out information about beds available in government hospitals in the vicinity.

Upgrading fast, says BBMP chief

The BBMP’s Covid helpline 14410, called Apthamitra, had 60 lines earlier. It now has 400. But the call never goes through. BBMP Chief Commissioner Gaurav Gupta said the helplines had been augmented to meet the sudden spurt in calls. “The south zone now has 30 lines, the east zone will have 30 lines in a day, and the west will have 15 lines. Other areas such as Yelahanka, Dasarahalli and Bommanahalli will also be upgraded to handle the increasing load,” he told Metrolife. He said a recent audit of the helplines had revealed gaps. “We have approached companies such as Infosys and ITC to help with resources and manpower to augment the existing helplines. We are also looking at personnel who can answer calls from their homes. We are in the process of streamlining everything,” he said.

Covid advice on Bescom helpline

Bescom helpline 1912 has an emergency Covid line as well. As soon as you dial the number you are directed to press 1 for Covid help and 2 for Bescom help. The Covid helpline is busy most of the time. This reporter got through only after trying a dozen times continuously.

Bescom managing director M B Rajesh Gowda said an integrated call centre was handling all helplines. “The staff are trained to give information on whether a patient needs home isolation, an ordinary bed or an ICU,” he said.

Staffing problems, says administrator

When Metrolife brought the results of the reality check to the notice of Rakesh Singh, BBMP administrator, he said, “The east zone has limited lines and they will be increased soon. The west zone has some staffing problems. Staffing will also have to be increased in Yelahanka and Bommanahalli.”

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Published 29 April 2021, 18:11 IST

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