Out of danger zone, Bengaluru starts getting new Covid facilities now

On Monday, Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa re-inaugurated the 150-year-old Epidemic Diseases Hospital — a quarantine centre earlier — as a 24-bed ICU facility equipped with ventilators and an oxygen storage tank.

While the daily death toll in Bengaluru fell to below 100 Tuesday, it’s now that the Karnataka government has started inaugurating facilities that were meant to have been ready to meet the second wave, that saw an average 225 die daily in the city in May amidst a shortage of resources.

On Monday, Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa re-inaugurated the 150-year-old Epidemic Diseases Hospital — a quarantine centre earlier — as a 24-bed ICU facility equipped with ventilators and an oxygen storage tank. He also inaugurated a 54-bed ICU facility and an oxygen generator at the 150-bed C V Raman General Hospital.

New ventilators were unveiled Tuesday for the 165-bed Lady Curzon and Bowring Hospital by Deputy CM Dr C N Ashwathnarayan. The state government also announced a Rs 1,500-crore plan to refurbish 149 taluk hospitals and 19 district hospitals with modern ICUs and ventilators.

Preparations for opening of much of these facilities had been done over eight months ago. Officials argued that they were putting them in place now for a possible third wave.

Dr Ansar Ahmed, Medical Superintendent of Epidemic Diseases Hospital, said, :”We have got the facility ready despite Covid-19 numbers coming down in order to be prepared for a third wave. We want to see if the ventilators can be converted for paediatric use if necessary since children may be affected next time,” he said.

Corporates such as real estate major Embassy REIT, Cloudphysician, LabourNet and the Azim Premji Foundation as well as the CII have pitched in for help.

Health Minister Dr K Sudhakar said recently, “The demand for beds has come down in Bengaluru as cases have reduced. However the government will continue to ramp up infrastructure to ensure preparedness for future waves.”

The Deputy CM said: “Even if the numbers decline, healthcare facilities need to be kept in an operational state till everyone gets at least one dose of vaccination. All these facilities need to remain functional till December.”

Earlier, the Karnataka government had tasked an expert group headed by Chairman of Narayana Health Group Dr Devi Shetty to plan for paediatric emergencies and ICUs in case of a third wave.

Bengaluru has been reporting less than 5,000 cases for over a week. On Tuesday, it saw 2,028 cases and 44 deaths.

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