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No help amid Covid-19 home isolation: Bengalureans' woes rise

Several calls from Apthamitra and BBMP, but little guidance, home quarantine patients say
Last Updated : 15 April 2021, 02:18 IST

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Over 80% of Covid-19 patients in the city are in home isolation, but that does not mean that they are getting help and guidance from municipal authorities. Home quarantine patients told DH that while they are being bombarded with calls from Apthamitra and the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) within the first few days of their diagnosis, there has been little engagement from the civic body afterwards.

According to official data, there are 63,167 active cases in Bengaluru Urban. At the same time, officials have expressed concern that entire families are turning positive, which could be linked to improper home isolation. Everyone in the household from children to senior citizens are getting infected, said Jawaid Akhtar, Additional Chief Secretary (Health) to the state government,

A 32-year-old man in home isolation who tested positive for the disease on April 12, said that despite receiving over 20 calls from BBMP and Apthamitra staffers so far, none of this translated to actual guidance about how to manage the disease.

“All of the callers wanted to confirm my home address and phone number. Some said that a home isolation kit would be delivered to my house, including medications, protective equipment and a pulse oximeter. But the kit was never delivered and no field visit has been conducted by the BBMP so far,” the patient said.

A 30-year-old couple, currently under home isolation in Bannerghatta limits since Monday had no response from any of the helplines until the matter was flagged at the taluk level health officials. “After three days of testing positive, we were given a medicines kit after great difficulty and thereafter there is no follow-up from any field workers or volunteers,” explained the couple.

A source handling home isolation said this was due to poor training among the callers who were reading from outdated scripts prepared during the first wave. “The home isolation kits have been discontinued since January, but the callers still tell patients that they will get the kit and this is causing a lot of problems and distrust among those in home quarantine,” the source said.

Gaurav Gupta, Chief Commissioner, BBMP, said that the kits were stopped because it is not possible to supply all 50,000-odd people in home isolation in Bengaluru. “Last year, the kit was given because treatment protocols for the disease were still in their infancy. This year, we are more certain about treatment and that is why we are only providing the medications but not the other items,” Gupta said.

Sources said that much of the comprehensive quarantine monitoring model enacted last year has been downsized or discarded. This is partly because thousands of civil defence personnel, citizen volunteers and government staffers who enforced quarantining, have been relieved of their duties.

“We were relieved in January when the number of cases started to fall,” said a source in Civil Defence. The source expressed surprise that the protocols which were effective last year have not been resuscitated for the second wave.

The BBMP Chief Commissioner, said that the civic body is currently using about 300 staffers from zonal war rooms to call patients, plus teams made up of government staffers who have instructions to conduct at least one field visit to quarantine households, followed up by tele-consultations.

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Published 14 April 2021, 19:28 IST

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