BENGALURU: When Bengaluru’s civic body, Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP), decided to seal two large localities in early April, it was met with criticism and resistance.
The decision to seal Padarayanapura and Bapuji Nagar–with around 40,000 people–on 10 April may have set a template that saved the city from the rapid spread of the coronavirus, compared to Mumbai, Chennai, New Delhi or even New York, among others, said municipal authorities in Bengaluru.
A similar pattern was followed in managing covid-19 clusters such as Hongasandra, Mangammanapalya and Shivajinagar, where civic authorities, medical and workers teamed up to contain the transmission of the virus, making slow but steady progress.
“Had we left them, they would have spread it to the entire neighbourhood and then all of Bengaluru,” Lokesh M, an official, who was then in-charge of contact tracing for the civic body.
The first positive case in Bengaluru (and in Karnataka) had nearly 3,000 primary and secondary contacts. Lokesh said this was contained by identifying the right primary and secondary contacts with door-to-door surveys in high risk localities and quarantining them.
An active strategy of containment, strict enforcement of the lockdown, vigorous contact tracing, using technology to aid efforts, officials driven approach with minimal political interference and perhaps a bit of fortune are some of the many reasons that helped Bengaluru and its over 10 million residents dodge a far more serious covid-19 health crisis.
Though there has been a spike in cases in recent days, most of who are from institutional quarantine centres and containment zones.
Since the first case was reported on 8 March, Bengaluru has recorded 385 cases, 12 deaths and 287 recoveries that leaves it with 136 active cases, according to the state health department.
This is sharply lower than 20,834 cases in Delhi, 41,099 in Mumbai and 15,770 in Chennai. Or with New York that has 3.7 lakh cases, over 1 lakh in Sao Paulo (Brazil) and over 68,000 in Madrid (Spain).
“In the initial days itself we started disinfecting wards, bus stations, parks, hospitals, slums, market areas. I think that this helped in the lower number of cases,” BH Anil Kumar, commissioner, BBMP said.
Random sampling and awareness programmes resonated with people who had earlier resisted containment and quarantine strategies, the officials said.
Blocking off almost 50% of the main roads across the city, heavy police presence at hundreds of check-posts and largely compliant residents aided efforts of frontline workers, the officials said.
A combination of technology and physical surveillance helped enforce strict enforcement of home quarantine. When officials visited homes of international travellers, they would not only plaster pamphlets but also inform neighbours who then became part of the vigilance and reducing the burden on the already stretched resources of the government.