Karnataka govt ignored second wave warning, say experts

Updated on Apr 20, 2021 04:41 PM IST
On Sunday, Bengaluru recorded its highest ever number of cases with 12,793 infections.
Bengaluru, India – April 12, 2021: Shoppers seen ahead of Ugadhi festival, at Malleshwaram, Bengaluru, Karnataka, India, on Monday, April 12, 2021. (Photo by Sampath Kumar GP / Hindustan Times)
Bengaluru, India – April 12, 2021: Shoppers seen ahead of Ugadhi festival, at Malleshwaram, Bengaluru, Karnataka, India, on Monday, April 12, 2021. (Photo by Sampath Kumar GP / Hindustan Times)
ByArun Dev , Bengaluru

Ats a time when Karnataka is in the grip of the deadlier second wave of coronavirus disease (Covid-19), a senior member of the Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) said the government was warned about the second wave.

“The onset of the second wave was warned by the experts in Karnataka on November 30, 2020. We missed the timing and the quantum is higher than expected. Governments had all the time to review and prepare,” tweeted Dr Girighara Babu, an epidemiologist at the Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI) and a member of the state TAC on Covid-19.

On Sunday, Bengaluru recorded its highest ever number of cases with 12,793 infections.

“The bed capacity is hardly sufficient for few days. It is also necessary to reduce the speed of transmission. There are only few options any Government can have when the cases surge rapidly and resources are limited. We need stricter mitigation and containment, starting now,” Babu said in another tweet.

Babu has been one of the leading advisors to the Karnataka government on Covid-19.

Many other experts like Babu have been raising concerns about the government’s inaction, which they believe, led to the Covid-19 situation going out of control. “The government was given first set of recommendation asking for stricter measures to be put in place to tackle the second wave. They ignored it. They were asked to implement several measures including reducing the footfall at cinemas, schools and many others. These recommendations were made in February and March again, but it was shot down,” said an expert purview to development, who did not wish to be named.

The expert also pointed out that despite the projections from the TAC, the government was planning for the second wave using the numbers of the previous surge. “On the second day of the second wave, we crossed the highest number reported in the first wave. We are now reporting more than 100% more cases than the last wave. The government failed to listen to the experts there as well,” the expert added.

Besides, the allocation on health in the state budget, too, did not reflect the government’s readiness to prepare for the second wave, an expert said.

“For starters, even though the pandemic was the biggest challenge faced by the government, the budget allocation for health remained at 4%. It was as though nothing had changed. They announced to build Intensive Care Units, but it was not to be immediate. The plan was to develop them over two years. When the government knew, a second wave was coming, why it didn’t plan for more hospital facilities?” asked a faculty member of the medical college in Bengaluru, currently deployed on Covid-19 duty.

A senior government official, who attended the review meeting on Monday, in which restrictions to be imposed in the city were discussed, said that more than any constructive discussion, the meeting saw legislators indulging in mudslinging. “The opposition was asking the government why there was no lockdown, and the governing party was arguing over why they (Opposition) were supporting a lockdown,” he said.

Another member of the TAC said that expert opinion has been that a lockdown is required in Bengaluru to control the current Covid-19 situation. “We have no other choice. The number of cases is only going to increase, stretching our healthcare system. We need to announce a lockdown and built infrastructure in the meanwhile. We hope that in the meeting with the governor, which will have lesser members than today (Monday), some sensible decisions will be taken,” added the TAC member.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Arun Dev is an Assistant Editor with the Karnataka bureau of Hindustan Times. A journalist for over 10 years, he has written extensively on crime and politics.

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